Yup, that’s unmistakably fall you feel, and apparently everybody else is feeling it too, since the activity bin seems to be running a bit thin this week. It’s the time of the season, it seems, for recalibrating, starting the gears turning into fall, and toward winter. It’s good walking weather, good bike-riding weather, and all the better for knowing these days are numbered. And soon enough, with any luck, they’ll be covered in snow. In the meantime, it’s not like there’s nothing to do.
You may have read an interesting piece on Lewis & Clark in Slate last week, titled “Stop Celebrating, They Don’t Matter—and Never Did.” Sure, writes author David Plotz, the modern-day Lewis and Clark Trail offers relatively unspoiled wonders. That’s because the trail was a crappy one, previously trod and effectively useless. Lewis and Clark, Plotz claims, failed utterly to make an impact.
Tell it to the Nez Perce.
Different peoples look at the same landscapes through different lenses—at least that’s the premise behind a presentation by Clearwater National Forest archaeologist Robbin Johnston, who delivers a talk about how natural processes mesh with human economies and how the landscapes of the Nez Perce Trail have been viewed by eyes of varying cultural attunement over the years. The program, hosted by the Travelers’ Rest chapter of the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation, is at 7 PM Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Lolo Community Center, and it’s free.
If there’s a central irony to the fact of life on this planet, it may be that while there’s an enormous number of ways to tear shit up, there exist remarkably few opportunities to put stuff back together again. One’s coming your way. Five Valleys Land Trust and the Big Blackfoot chapter of Trout Unlimited are replanting the banks of Ashby Creek in Potomac on Friday, Oct. 6. Ashby Creek is home to a genetically pure—who among us can say the same?—population of westslope cutthroat trout, and a coalition of interested entities has already complete channel restoration. Now they need your help to put the, umm, plants back in riparian. The fun lasts from around 8:30 AM to about 4. There are multiple meeting places and all sorts of things you ought to make sure to bring along, but you’ll be fed and watered and you should probably just email firstname.lastname@example.org for the details. They’d prefer to know if you’re coming, via email to that address, by Oct. 2 anyway.
Now that you’re feeling good about your doing of same, keep the ball rolling by showing up at Building Momentum: A Bike/Walk Summit for Missoula on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 10 AM to 4 PM at St. Patrick Hospital’s conference center. Speakers include Dave Snyder, director of program development for the bike/ped-advocacy Thunderhead Alliance, and Missoula Mayor John Engen. They’ll talk about how to grow—that awful but necessary verb—bike/ped networks. The night prior, Friday, Oct. 6, from 6 to 8 PM at Open Road bicycles, there’ll be a pre-presentation party, also featuring Snyder. No word on beer availability, but walk or ride to the party just in case.
If just thinking about all that sitting and listening about biking gets you legs all stove up, consider spending that day, Oct. 7, with Be Active Bitteroot as they sponsor a hike up St. Mary’s Peak, with on-trail tips about hiking warm-ups, the benefits of cardiovascular exercise and getting in shape for walking uphill. You’ll top out at 9,351 feet and a beautiful view. Pack good shoes, a quart of water, raingear, sunscreen and lunch and meet in the northwest corner of Stevensville’s Super 1 parking lot. Call Tim Nielson at 777-3523 for more info.
Now that you’re worn out, get back to learning when UM’s College of Forestry and Conservation presents the Plum Creek Conference Oct. 9-11. The topic is “After the Next Fire: Science and the Postfire Environment.” Be curious to see what Plum Creek-sponsored scientists have to say about that, dontcha think? There’s a slew of them over the course of three days, at a variety of campus venues. Call the forestry college at 243-5521 for the schedule.
Then bail out early on Wednesday, Oct. 11, and slip over to Trout Unlimited’s membership meeting at 6:30 at the Holiday Inn Parkside. Fisheries biologist Cris Clancy will talk about, you know, trout stuff, and the Misoulian Angler’s Ryan Fitzgerald will tie Bitterroot flies. Free and open to the public. As all good things should be.
That’s it, except for walking and bike-riding, which I trust you can find an outlet for yourself. If you stumble across anything special you’d like to share while you’re out there, send it my way.