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Mountain High


As we stand here on the edge of yard sale season—in our hopes and dreams, at least—you’ve probably got a stack of old outdoor gear taking up room in your garage, closet or back seat.

Before you start slapping price stickers on that treasure trove of tents, sleeping bags, jackets and backpacks, allow me to appeal to your philanthropic side: On Sat., March 14, the month-long Gear for the Garhwal Gear Drive begins, with drop-off locations at Bob Wards, the Trailhead, Pipestone Mountaineering and UM’s Outdoor Program.

The drive is organized by the Nature-Link Institute, a nonprofit study abroad program accredited by the UM College of Forestry and Conservation, which has taken students to study in India’s Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve Park since 2004. In that time, the program developed a relationship with Mountain Shepherds, a community-owned eco-tourism outfit that aims to empower local youth to manage their traditional lands in sustainable ways.

And that’s where your old shells, climbing gear, headlamps and sleeping pads come into play. Once April 19 rolls around, Nature-Link’s next batch of travelers will hand-deliver the amassed stockpile to their Himalayan counterparts. The project’s slogan—“A mountain to mountain community service”—sums it up well, and in this age of ever-increasing connectivity, extend a hand of outdoor friendship that reaches around the globe. Contact the Nature-Link Institute at 370-2294, or visit 

And with clear consciences, we move into the week’s offerings. You’re probably totally on top of your training program for April’s GrizzlyMan Adventure Race, but just in case that’s not totally accurate, try this on for size: At 7 PM on Thu., March 12, REI-Missoula presents an adventure race clinic with orienteer and tracker Matt Condon titled “Intro to Navigation and Orienteering.” It’s free, and you don’t have to RSVP. But call 829-0432 if you like.

The less adrenaline-dependent will instead head to the Ninemile Ranger Station in Huson, where at 7 PM on Thu., March 12, Carleen Gonder presents the lecture “Wildlife Forensics: A Key Tool to Fight Poaching.” Free. Call 626-4587. 

Rather than take on either of those, the bird-loving set will flock to Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ Spurgin Road office, where at 7 PM on Thu., March 12, the Audubon Society presents another advanced birding class, “Sparrows,” with Bob Martinka. The class costs $15, or $60 for the whole series. RSVP 549-5632.

Your weekend’s about to get a bit more complicated. It begins with the Rocky Mountaineers, who invite you to join them for a trek up Lolo Peak on Sat., March 14. Snowshoes or skis are requisite, and you’re to contact Chris at if you’re interested.

Fans of bikes will instead be attracted by a ride led by Missoulians on Bicycles (MOB), which begins with a 10 AM meeting for carpooling at K-Mart on Brooks St. before heading to the Lolo Conoco for the “Happy Trails to Stevi” ride. Alternately, you can meet up at the Conoco at 10:30. Call Lech at 543-4889.

Hate bikes and mountains? Well, then you probably like dogs, which is why you should consider two-days of Dog Skijoring Races and Demos, which begin at 10 AM on Sat., March 14, at the Glacier Outdoor Center in West Glacier. If getting dragged around by a hound doesn’t tickle yer fancy, there are groomed trails for you to ski instead. Call 888-5454.

Another option for the day involves travel to the Whitefish Mountain Resort, where Sat., March 14, witnesses the onset of the Nate Chute Hawaiian Classic, a two-day snowboard fest that includes banked slalom and boarder-cross races. The first 110 entrants will compete, and they’ll pay $35 each. Call 862-2910 or visit

Kids in Missoula can slip into naturalist mode with the Montana Natural History Center, which presents the Saturday Kids Activity Sneaky Snakes at 2 PM on Sat., March 14. The $2 fee is waived for members. Call 327-0405.

Get some solid snooze hours that night, as Sunday sees a pair of repeat performances: On Sun., March 15, the Rocky Mountaineers celebrate the re-opening of Mount Jumbo with a mellow hike, and the MOB offers the 35-mile Big Flat Mudflinger, which begins at 10 AM at Open Road Cyclery on Orange St. Call Steve at 721-4686 about the former, and Wayne at 721-3095 regarding the latter.

Around the state, plant people are starting to wake back up. Case in point, the Flathead Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society holds their general meeting at 5:30 PM on Wed., March 18, in Columbia Falls’ Glacier Discovery Square, with the program “Landscaping with Native Plants” to follow at 7. Free. Call 892-0129.

Education continues as the theme of the evening, as the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto—aka The Spelunkers—meets at 7 PM on Wed., March 18, at Pipestone Mountaineering for a slide show with Tina Oliphant called “Expedition to Blood Cave, Bob Marshall Wilderness.” Sounds creepy, yet somehow alluring.

Before they’re de-listed and everybody’s got one mounted above the fireplace, catch “Wolves: A Natural History Perspective” with Fish, Wildlife & Parks wolf specialist Liz Bradley at 7 PM on Wed., March 18, at the Montana Natural History Center. There’s a $4 suggested donation. Call 327-0405.

Thanks for your time. We now return you to the rest of the paper.

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