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Mountain High

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At press time, a wintery forecast including snow, rain and cold threatens to descend upon the Garden City and its many trees. Already leafed out, the trees are more prone to crack under the weight of a heavy snow. Montana weather can’t be easily explained in bell curves and trends, unless that trend is to expect frigid weather at any time.

But a rain-and-snow forecast has local kayak organizer Seth Warren pumped. It means that the Clark Fork’s flow should hold steady at an optimal level for this weekend’s fifth annual U.S. Whitewater Open at Triple Bridges on the Alberton Gorge. This river level creates three holes on the rapid: a big hole (that boaters normally wouldn’t go into, except, of course, for extra points in a competition), a little hole, and a “perfect” hole that pops boaters into the air to perform a variety of tricks.

“There are few other kayaking events on rivers this big,” Warren said.

Pro kayakers like Brad Ludden, Tracy Sage, Ben Selznick, Kristie Glissmeyer and Clay Wright will perform some of the toughest and most cutting-edge kayaking moves on the river today. Spectators will watch pros and local favorites attempt helixes (inverted air-born 360s wherein the boat lands back on its bottom), aerial loops, donkey flips (aerial barrel rolls) and McNasties (reverse donkey flips). The three bridges spanning the rapid and an easy trail to the river create an ideal spectator situation. Warren offers that there will be “lots of girls” at the event, and winners of the competition will take home a shiny, acre-sized Montana belt buckle. Saturday, May 15, will feature the first round of competition, starting at noon. Sunday, May 16, will be the finals, starting at 10 a.m., with a 4 p.m. awards ceremony. The exact location is 38 miles west of Missoula on I-90 to the Fish Creek exit. Turn right toward the river and left where the road hits a T. Look for the triple bridges.

The rain and snow could also affect local cyclists taking to the highways this week. On Sunday, May 16, the 12th annual Lolo Lulu will have cyclists cranking their pedals to Lolo Pass from Missoula. Organizers call for participants to “bring a lulu of a lunch for a lofty luau” mid-way through the 90-mile ride. For more information, contact Wayne Kruse at 721-3095.

The Adventure Cycling Association also has weekly rides scheduled from now until October. The Monday Night Recreational Road Ride goes anywhere from 15 to 30 miles at a pace of 15 to 18 mph. Riders meet at the Association at 150 E. Pine. There are also Dirt Girls Tuesday Night Mountain Bike Rides, which spin three to five miles. You can be a beginner and you have to be a woman. The Adventure Cycling Association is also looking to hire a new executive director, if any cyclists are looking to take their tires off the road during the week for a desk job.

The New Rocky Mountaineers aren’t afraid of the snow. Searching for fresh turns, they’ll climb the Bitterroot’s tallest, jagged Trapper Peak on Sunday, May 16. Standing at 10,157’, it affords deep views into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness. The upper half of the mountain could be pure powder turns in a large alpine apron. But watch out for that spring snow line—if you’ve got some speed and hit the sticky stuff, you could wind up head first in a pile of slush. It’s still questionable as to whether vehicles can make it to the trailhead, so there could be some road walking before hitting the trail. Expect a max of 5,000’ of vertical gain and eight miles of hiking. For more information, contact Gerald Olbu at 549-4769.

A group from the Flathead Valley Community College will take their sea kayaks to the Wild and Scenic White Cliffs region of the Missouri River June 14–18. Aside from herds of slow elk, the region has changed little since Lewis and Clark traveled through the area. This is an adventure suitable for beginners, and the stretch is alive with abundant bird life. Instruction, dinners, breakfasts, camping and permit fees, river shuttle, kayaks and paddling gear are provided for a cost of $754. Call the college at 756-3832 for more information or to reserve a space in the cockpit.

Attention Missoulians: Civic duty calls. Once again our fair city will host the Montana State Track and Field Championships. Both Class AA and C boys and girls will compete on May 28 and 29. The event is sure to bring in thousands of athletes, spectators and coaches. That means that the meet needs 240 volunteers to help. Timers, lane watchers, rakers and retrievers are all needed. If you’re interested in helping, contact Gary Little at 728-2400, extension 8026.

Send your outdoor news to jmahan@missoulanews.com.

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