Mountain High

August 20, 2009

Well it's official, the Calendar Playa is now your go-to-guy at the Indy for all outdoors and arts related events. I'm excited, and ready to serve. On that note, we've got much ground to cover for all you conservationists, hikers, bicyclists and star gazing junkies, so let's jump to it.

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This weekend your stewardship skills come in handy during a trip to Moose Mountain in the Bitterroots that starts Friday as part of the Great Burn Study Group and National Forest Foundation's ongoing summer trips to monitor weeds, wildlife, trail conditions, signs and more. If you've got the gusto, contact Beverly Dupree at 240-9901 or e-mail thegreatburn@yahoo.com.

If that doesn't float your nature-loving boat, consider another option to hang out in the Bitterroots and lend a hand during a conservation backpacking trip from Nez Perce Pass to the Peyton Rock Area, which runs Friday through Sunday, as part of the Wilderness Institute's ongoing work in the Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Areas. The trip takes you from Nez Perce Pass to Castle Rock and Bare Cone, with splendoriffic views of the Bitterroot Mountain range. But you won't just be hiking; you'll also monitor weeds, recreation impacts and wilderness character, and inventory campsites. Also be prepared to shove lots of facts into that cranium of yours when you learn about invasive species, native plants, monitoring methods and more. Call 243-5361 or e-mail wi@cfc.umt.edu.

If you'd rather be yanking stuff from the earth than monitoring it, I'll happily suggest you take another option to keep Gaia clean during a two-day knapweed pulling project at McCabe Point in the Monture Creek Drainage north of Ovando in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. The ripping and jerking runs from Aug. 27–28, and you're asked to register for this project one week ahead of time, so hurry and call 387-3808 or visit www.bmwf.org.

Still, if you're a little weak in the arms, I'd consider a half-day, moderately strenuous 4-mile hike up Munson Creek in the Thompson River linkage on Wed., Aug. 26, where you'll join the American Wildlands for a bout of hiking and light conservation work in the form of documenting wildlife signs, habitat conditions and obstacles to wildlife movement and more. Plan to meet at 10 AM at the Munson Creek Trailhead, near mile-marker 63 on Highway 200, just west of Plains. RSVP with Kim Davitt at 728-2087 or e-mail kdavitt@wildlands.org.

After you've busted your butt for conservation purposes, I think play is in store in the form of a hiking trip. But be warned, this is only for the hardcore as you join the Rocky Mountaineers for a hiking and climbing trip up Grey Wolf Peak in the Mission Mountains on Sun., Aug. 23. You'll exert yourself with crew leader Forest Dean as you ascend up to Riddell Lakes, and then swoop through a saddle to the Scenic Lakes basin. After conquering the basin you'll gain a ridge and will have to negotiate a steep notch. This 14-mile journey is considered a class 4 and class 5 trip, which means it's a mixture of easy climbing with technical climbing, so a rope, protection and a belay are a must. Also take note of this required equipment: a tribal recreation permit, ice ax, harness and helmet. Make sure you're also in good shape, have familiarity with this type of climbing and then call Forest Dean at 240-7612 or e-mail mtnear1@gmail.com.

Hey, I know what you're thinking and I can understand if headstrong hiking makes you want to puke more than jump for joy. For that reason, I've got two events for all ya'll who like to obsessively pedal around.

The first is the Second Annual Montana Backcountry Bicycle Festival in Lima, 60 miles south of Dillon on Interstate 15, from Aug. 22–23. Join others at this soirée, where world-class backcountry biking in the Lima Peaks/Garfield Mountain areas mixes with camping, food and fun in what's billed as a non-aggro race fest, aimed at bringing together positive, laid-back cyclists for a weekend of two-wheel merriment. Details and pricing are still in the works so visit www.montanamountainbikealliance.com or call Bret George at 546-4537.

Those of you wanting to be closer to home to pedal, brake and navigate nearby wildlands ought to check out a ride with the Montana Dirt Girls up Mount Jumbo on Aug. 25, at 6 PM. Plan to ride the Sidewinder trail and then perhaps up the ante a bit with a ride through the Three Larch trail and down Woods Gulch. Free, but this is a female-oriented cycling group, so no dudes allowed! E-mail Julie at jhuck@adventurecycling.org.

I also empathize if you're feeling a bit lazy this week. Maybe it's the constant fluctuations in weather, or maybe work is zapping away your energy. In that case, a series of star gazing events awaits you. The heavenly extravaganza takes you up to the Blue Mountain Observatory on Fri., Aug. 21, where you get your chance to be a cheap date, and to witness the splendor of nearby planets, stars and nebulous clouds at an estimated observing time of 9:45 PM. Free. Visit www.physics.umt.edu/bluemountain/ for directions and call 243-5179 before you go.

And wait, we've just gotten a last minute transmission from Tour de Hunter, a group that raises money for whitewater kayak safety and education. They'll be in town this week—exact details unknown—but check out tourdehunter.weebly.com or e-mail TourDeHunter@hotmail.com for the lowdown.

Finally, on Sat., Aug. 22, you can make up any lost time with your kid during a star gazing party outside the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., from 8:30–11 PM. Join other parents and kids for this free event, where you'll be guided through the constellations and more with the help of experts. Call 273-4253.

Well, space is short and time is of the essence, so go forth reader, explore thine forests, no matter work, nor play.

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