There’s no better way to celebrate the end of ski season and usher in spring than by attending Whitefish Mountain Resort’s annual pond skimming event, in which costume-clad skiers and snowboarders compete for prizes and bragging rights by crashing and splashing across a frigid pool of water.

If you don’t have the resolve to skim like a Jesus Lizard across the 80-foot pond, the event, scheduled for April 5, is perfect for spectators of all ages to gather along the base of Big Mountain and cheer.

The competition is limited to participants over 21.

Competitors are required to ski or snowboard down an approach that varies in distance as the event advances. The most successful skimmers learn how to harness their momentum to attempt crossing the pond, even as the approach is truncated.

The event is judged individually based on the longest skim. After each round, the starting line is moved lower down the slope making it more difficult to gain speed to make it over the pond. Keep an eye out during the first round for some of the best crashes.

Participants should gather at 1:45 p.m. with the event starting at 2:30 p.m. Awards are given out 30 minutes after the final skim and include best costume, best crash and longest skim.

Visit www.skiwhitefish.com for details.

CHEER High School Rodeo State Finals

Rodeo is a deeply engrained tradition in Montana, and June 3-8 some of the best, young talent in the state will be putting on a show at the Majestic Valley Arena just north of Kalispell for the High School Rodeo State Finals.

Go to the arena and cheer on the competitors as they take on the tried-and-true rodeo events fans love: barrel racing, pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, tie-down roping, steer wrestling and team roping.

The event is anticipated to bring more than 4,000 people to the community for about a week. For more information, visit www.mhsra.com.

Montana High School Rodeo State Finals

Montana High School Rodeo State Finals – Photo by LIDO VIZZUTTI

RUN Spartan Race

From an outsider’s perspective, it must seem insane. Parades of men and women – more than 2 million since 2010 – have ventured through the boggy, grueling escapade that is the Spartan Race. It’s an adrenaline-pumping phenomenon that has clearly tapped into something significant, whether it’s cultural or primal.

The advent of obstacle racing over the last decade, paralleling the explosive rise of CrossFit, has fueled a new generation of fitness, a generation defined by reckless abandon and real-world exercise.

It attracts all ages — the average Spartan Race participant is 30 years old — and dares competitors to overcome the elements and the doldrums of sitting behind a desk all day.

The craze has hit Montana; last year’s inaugural event in the woods of Bigfork drew nearly 4,000 participants. Organizers loved the 4.9-mile course because of its natural challenges — this is the rugged Wild West, after all — and they’re bringing it back this year. Slated for May 10, the second edition of the Montana Spartan Race will purportedly feature a similar layout, although organizers enjoy quietly adding new obstacles and challenges that catch racers off guard. Who knows what’s really in store? You’ll just have to find out first-hand. Check out www.spartanrace.com for more information.

Montana Spartan Race

Montana Spartan Race – Photo by LIDO VIZZUTTI

HIKE Lake McDonald Fish Creek Trail

Most visitors to Glacier National Park enjoy the remarkable views of Lake McDonald while cruising along the Going-to-the-Sun Road on the lake’s east shore. But the more deliberate visitor will enjoy the ribbon of trail along the opposite side of the lake, known as the West Shore hike.

The trail tracks along the west shore of Lake McDonald through a densely forested area that burned during the Roberts Fire of 2003. The effects of the wildfire are evident during the scenic hike — including a dearth of shade and a glut of downfall.

But that doesn’t detract from the remote beauty of this 7-mile, one-way hike (14 miles out and back), which offers a variety of unique views of Lake McDonald and the surrounding peaks.

The trail begins in the Fish Creek Campground on the Inside North Fork Road and runs through a diverse forest of burnt-out cedar and nascent regrowth.

The savvy and ambitious hiker might arrange to shuttle a bicycle to the end of the hike and ride back along the east shore of Lake McDonald on the Sun Road.

Lake McDonald Fish Creek Trail

Lake McDonald Fish Creek Trail – Photo by JUSTIN FRANZ

DISCOVER Bonsai Brewing Project

If local beer is good, thEn locally funded beer must be better, right? That’s the theory behind the Bonsai Brewing Project in Whitefish. Graham Hart is the brains behind the brewery in the Whitefish Mountain Mall, located at 6475 U.S. Highway 93, and he used Kickstarter to help fund part of the project late last year. The taps were opened in January and it’s become a popular spot in the North Valley; it’s especially useful for a post-shopping drink – after all, it’s in a mall.

Hart’s Bonsai Brewing Project is classified as a nano-brewery, which is smaller than a microbrewery, and will make about 200 barrels of beer a year. On tap are a blonde, an IPA, a brown, a stout and an ale.

The brewery is open Wednesday through Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m. For more information visit facebook.com/bonsaibrew.

Bonsai Brewing Project

Bonsai Brewing Project – Photo by GREG LINDSTROM

READ The Apprentices

Maile Meloy has been called an American literary treasure. The author of four novels and two story collections, Meloy has emerged as a preeminent voice in this latest generation of writers, illuminating life’s dirty realism and, as Steinbeck would have it, celebrating man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit, for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion and love. That she was raised in Montana only makes her stories, and characters, more significant to us in Big Sky Country.

Meloy was born and raised in Helena. The sister of Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy, she followed her own creative path, studying literature at Harvard and then California Irvine before receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2004. In 2007, Granta named Meloy one of the 21 Best Young American Novelists when she was just 35, and from there she blossomed into an award-winning novelist and short story writer, particularly with her collection “Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It,” which featured spare, clear-eyed stories set among the Montana landscape. At the height of her craft, she’s taken an interesting turn and produced back-to-back young adult books: the critically acclaimed, “The Apothecary,” and last year’s sequel, “The Apprentices,” an exciting, fantastical adventure set in the 1950s and featuring two young protagonists.

The Apprentices by Maile Meloy

The Apprentices by Maile Meloy

LISTEN Glacier Symphony and Chorale

One of the valley’s greatest aural treasures is the Glacier Symphony and Chorale, which produces big-city, professional-quality shows in our small mountain community.

The musicians play because they love to, and their passion for their craft is evident in each performance. On May 10 and 11, be sure to check out the Masterworks finale of the GSC’s 31st season, “The Ecstatic Sea.”

Featuring soloists soprano Gina Lapka and baritone Steohen Kalm, this performance will include “Symphony No. 1 – A Sea Symphony” by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams and  “March Imperial Op. 32” by Edward Elgar.

The May 10 concert will be at 7:30 p.m., and the May 11 concert at 2:30 p.m.; both will be held at the Flathead High School Performance Hall.

For ticketing information, visit www.gscmusic.org or call 406-407-7000.

Trust us, you want to get to one of these concerts – your ears will thank you.

Glacier Symphony and Chorale

Glacier Symphony and Chorale – Photo by LIDO VIZZUTTI

TUNE IN 20 Grand

The carefully crafted sound of Whitefish’s friendly neighborhood funk band has finally made its way to the recording studio.

Earlier this year, 20 Grand laid down 11 tracks of original songs at SnowGhost Music to help support the community’s funk habit, and will be peddling the record, “Don’t Hoard the Funk,” at their shows throughout the spring.

The band members raised funds for the recording sessions, mixing and mastering through an online Kickstarter campaign, and thanked its fans throughout the valley for their support.

“We are proud of the quality of the recordings, and feel that we’ve captured an energetic and authentic picture of who we are and how we play,” according to the band’s website. “We can’t believe what our band has grown into over the last five years since its inception, and are excited to have this audio memento for fun, posterity, and of course to share with our friends, family and fans.”

The versatility and musical talents of 20 Grand’s eight members means they can channel the likes of the Meters, George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and even Rage Against the Machine and Sugarhill Gang when emcee E Rock grabs the mic.

The band will play April 5 at the Bierstube to celebrate the end of ski season at Whitefish Mountain Resort, where they’re sure to keep fans dancing all night long.

For additional performance dates, check them out online at www.20GrandFunk.com.

20 Grand Band

20 Grand – Photo contributed by 20 Grand

VISIT Hockaday Museum Of Art

The final days of skiing are upon us, but it’s just a little too early (and perhaps a little too cold) to head up to Glacier National Park or one of the many other outdoor paradises Northwest Montana has to offer. Thankfully, the Hockaday Museum of Art has you covered. Located near downtown Kalispell, the Hockaday has a large gallery, mostly featuring artists from around the region.

A big focus of the museum is Glacier National Park, highlighted by its Glacier Park Lodge murals. The scenic panels covered hundreds of square feet and appear in a 1939 lodge inventory, although the artist behind them remains a mystery.

All of the murals were removed in the 1950s and disappeared, only to reemerge in recent years. Leanne and Alan Goldhahn donated the murals in 2012 to the museum in honor of Leanne’s grandparents, who saved the paintings from a Dumpster. Today the Hockaday is lovingly restoring the art and two panels are now on display.

For more information, visit www.hockadaymuseum.org. The Hockaday Museum of Art is located at 302 Second Ave. E., Kalispell.

Hockaday Museum of Art

Hockaday Museum of Art – Photo by LIDO VIZZUTTI