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Mountain High

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To paraphrase the bumper sticker, the earth is alive and magick is afoot. Now, before the avalanche of hate mail pours in to flay me for printing such a woo-woo notion, hear me out: This week’s outdoor offerings are amplified and emboldened, much like a perfect storm, by the dual forces of Earth Day and Bike Walk Bus Week as they come rolling in like a massive nor’easter.

Yes, it’s a week to praise the bounty of the planet and to explore and celebrate less motorized ways of moving around. If that’s still too hippy-dippy, consider this: You’ve got the option of ignoring all the “love your mother” messaging and simply enjoying the sweat-inducing activities in and of themselves.

I know some folks just can’t relate to a thing unless there’s greenbacks involved, which means the Lolo National Forest’s intention to begin charging recreation fees at select sites should be right up the Puritan’s alley. Typically, these sorts of programs are wildly unpopular with the public—remember that check you sent in on April 15?—so if you’ve got a mind to express yourself prior to hugging Earth week’s metaphorical redwood, give Elizabeth Casselli a ring at 329-3724 and learn about the comment period for this particular proposal.

Oddly, this week is heavily front-loaded, so I’m going to twist the format around a bit. See if you can pick up what I’m putting down…

Sat., April 19

The day begins when you rendezvous with the bleary-eyed Rocky Mountaineers for a three-day pilgrimage to Oregon’s Mount Hood. You’ll drive, drive, drive—love your mother?—grab a couple hours of shut-eye and then begin the ascent at around midnight. The eight-mile trek has an elevation gain of 5,300 feet, and participants must have prior glacier/snow climbing experience. Also, you’ll need crampons, a harness, ice ax, helmet and all the other tools of the trade. Call Kevin at 728-6782.

Our town’s beloved two-wheelers also get in gear this weekend, as Missoulians on Bicycles (MOB) presents a grand total of three rides over the course of two days. It all begins with the 12th annual Hot Springs Ride, which begins at Ravalli, travels along highway 200 and up to the Symes Hotel for an evening of sulfuric soaking, with the return ride the next day. Call Diane at 728-4126 about that one. Or, check out MOB’s Bearmouth to Drummond Ride, which begins with a 7:45 AM meet-up at the Eastgate parking lot, includes 34 miles of great hill training and requires an RSVP to 728-2455 or 396-1040.

Blast it all to hell, literally, when you journey to Greenough’s Paws Up Ranch, where the two-day Montana Master Marksmen Sporting Clays Tournament begins with daily registration at 7:30 AM—which you can also do in advance by calling 244-5363—and features a fully automated, 12-station mountain course for all you children of Gaia. Visit montanamastermarksmen.com. 

Celebrate avian life sans buckshot when you get on down to UM’s Adams Center parking lot at 8 AM—or 8:45 at the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge—for an Audubon Society trip to ogle waterfowl and early migrants with renowned trip leader and planet lover Larry Weeks. Bring binocs and a lunch, prepare your legs for three miles of hoofing and call 549-5632 with lingering questions.

If you’re sick of creating a bird plow effect when you enter the woods, join Elliot Parsons at 9 AM at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., for the program Beyond Birding: Understanding Bird Language, where you can learn the secrets of sylvan invisibility, if not levitation and mind control. $25/$20 members. Call 327-0405.

A quickie: Polish our watery gem when you get down to Caras Park by 10 AM for the fifth annual Clark Fork Clean-up. You can also bring all your recyclables—glass included—and unload them on the team from MVR and Pacific Recycling.

Prove yourself during the inaugural Grizzly Man Adventure Race, which is open to all genders and begins at 11 AM. The 23-mile course will take roughly six hours to complete, so if you haven’t been training, maybe you should just spectate. $40. Call Kelley at 243-4187 now, as there’s no race-day registration. 

Finally, Bonner Park’s the place to be at noon, where the annual Festival of Cycles greets all bike lovers with frames, parts, mechanics, games, food, music and more. It costs nothing and could inspire more hope than a pair of barnstorming politicians.

The Rest of the Week

That spoke-minded MOB offers their third ride of the week at 10 AM on Sun., April 20: The 60-mile round trip Alberton Ride leaves from the Perkins Restaurant at Mullan Station. Call 728-7994.

Festival season’s officially upon us, with evidence mounting as Caras Park fills at noon on Sun., April 20, for MUD’s second annual Earth Day Celebration. Music, glass recycling, the glory of the Montana-made yurt, info on all the sustainable businesses you can imagine, kids’ activities, tons of food and beverage and general paganism abound.

The Sierra Club’s got you covered for the rest of the week, with a joint outing on Tue., April 22, with the Rocky Mountaineers to learn more about the Milltown Superfund Clean-up with Russ Forba from the EPA. If you’re interested, RSVP pronto to 721-4686, as they need to know how many toxic sludge milkshakes to prepare.

Lastly, the Sierra Club continues their cage rattling with a presentation about Lolo Peak’s Elk, Water and Recreation Resources—think “don’t resort to a bad resort”—at 6 PM on Wed., April 23, in Room 333 of UM’s University Center. Call 549-1142.

Grizzly ladies and gentlemen, consider yourselves officially in-the-know.

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