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Mountain High

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According to the Sierra Club, “the Lewis & Clark Pass area [is] one of the most significant travel routes in North America and faint remnants of travois trails are still evident today.” You can join Fay Schaller of the Great Falls Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center on August 14 as she shares details of native fauna and Lewis’ adventure through the region. Get the lowdown on this free day hike from the Sierra Club’s Missoula office at 549-1142.

Local butterfly expert Will Kerling will lead a Montana Natural History Center tour through a “local butterfly hotspot” on the Mount Jumbo Saddle on August 14. Bring water, a lunch and $15 ($10 for members), but call the MNHC at 327-0405 for the required registration.

So, you’re living in Missoula, and you’ve noticed that a river runs through it. If you’re a woman who’s eager to feel the rod bend under the weight of a 3-pound rainbow, consider joining the conservationists at Trout Unlimited for the Third Annual Women’s Flyfishing Clinic on August 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Teller Wildlife Refuge’s Slack Barn. For a smooth $50, flyfishing females will score a Trout Unlimited membership, lunch and coaching from expert flyfishing women on effective casting techniques, tying knots and how to select gear, clothing and flies. Contact Jenny West at 363-3397 for more info.

The Montana State Mountain Bike Championships race in, around and on Red Lodge this August 13–15 as part of the Fat Tire Frenzy. NORBA-sanctioned cross-country, downhill and observed trials (an obstacle course of balance beams, junked cars and picnic tables) are set up in “spectator friendly” venues, and there’s a beer garden with live music on Saturday evening. To volunteer or learn more, call Tera at 446-2433.

Missoula will soon have a brand new collection of aquatics facilities dotting our urban landscape, and Parks and Recreation would like to show you what they’ve got in mind. On August 17 at 6:30 p.m., interested water lovers can dive into an open house at the Missoula Public Library’s large meeting room to discuss design ideas outlined for Missoula’s new splash decks and swimming pools in McCormick, Playfair, Bonner, Franklin, Westside and Marilyn Parks. Citizens can comment through 8:30 p.m.

The Rocky Mountaineers are taking three trips this week: one easy kid’s hike, one “moderate” hike, and a thoroughly massive (but not technical) three-day backpack. You can join Jim Goss (822-5000) for a short hike to Hoodoo Lake near Superior on August 14. Water-loving types should definitely bring a suit, birthday or otherwise, as the lake is one exquisite swimming hole. Hydrophobes on this outing can skip the dip and instead explore the nearby Hoodoo Meadows.

Or take the “kid’s trip” up to Fuse Lake, another gem of a swimming hole, in the Sapphire Mountains near Skalkaho Falls on August 15. At the end of this hike, “suitable for those over 6 years,” participants will decide whether to spend the night or head back. Call Julie Warner (543-6508) for more details.

Glacier National Park aficionados can join Steve Niday (721-3790) for an unforgettable three-day haul to the remote, unique and decidedly extraordinary Vulture Peak August 19–22. Count on a late drive up Thursday, a long all-trail grind on Friday, a memorable scramble to the summit on Saturday and a long, downhill hike out on Sunday. This is a non-technical adventure, but thick in the heart of Glacier’s wildest country, so be prepared with bear spray, a camera, a stout set of quads and an appropriately broken-in set of footwear.

Climbers and hikers exhausted after a day of scampering about the high country of Glacier National Park can expand their understanding of our continent’s headwaters region while resting the swollen dogs and swilling ice-cold beverages (bring your own) with the park’s ongoing Naturalist Programs. Catch in-depth presentations on glaciers, mountain lions, bats, moose and other park-specific topics at the Avalanche, Fish Creek and Apgar campground ampitheaters every evening at 8 p.m.

As Missoula bakes its way through another sweltering August, ski areas are clearing brush off runs, performing routine maintenance and, occasionally, throwing bones to those of us whose summers serve as little more than a rest period between ski seasons. While typical offers commonly amount to little more than publicity stunts (consider Big Mountain’s free passes to those with 80-year-old knees—HA!), occasionally sweet scores can be had.

For instance, newcomer Moonlight Basin is giving middle and high school students who maintain a 3.0 (or better) grade point average free passes for the season. Even those not on the honor roll can get in on the game, too (are you listening, snowboarders?)—you just need to increase your GPA 0.2 per semester to score the free pass. For the rest of us, adult passes at this small but powderful resort run $300.

But if you’ve got a hankering for some Montana snow NOW, join the New Rocky Mountaineers for a scramble up one of the few great glaciated peaks outside of Glacier National Park, the 8,720’ Great Northern Mountain, on August 14. Just outside of the park, this four-mile ascent gains 4,500’ of elevation before topping out with exceptional views into the vast and uncrowded southern portion of Glacier National Park, as well as the Hungry Horse Reservoir. You’ll also get a bird’s-eye view of Stanton Glacier, a shrinking chunk of ice clinging to the north side of Great Northern Mountain. Call Russ Lamson at 257-2801 for more information.

Meanwhile, the Earth is currently spinning through a debris cloud left by the Swift-Tuttle Comet, leaving dust particles that burn up brilliantly as they streak through our atmosphere. Forest Service forecasters are predicting that the annual Perseid meteor shower will be “unusually good” this year, which in stargazer terms means flat-on-your-backers will be treated to perhaps hundreds of shooting stars per hour. The best viewing time will be August 12–14. To commemorate our viewing of this annual nocturnal emission, the Bitterroot National Forest will hold a Perseid Moon Walk on August 28 at 8 p.m. on Como Lake. Participants should bring warm clothes, binoculars and a flashlight, and can expect to hear from moon, weather and other sky experts. Call the BNF at 363-7100 for more info.

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