Even as our thermometers dip into subzero temps, I know there's a part of you that wants to buck up and trek around our terrains for a little exercise and outdoor fun.
If you're one of those peeps, make a mental note this week that Mount Jumbo's north and south zones are now closed for winter and won't open again until spring, in order to accommodate the 75 or so elk that come down to graze in these lower elevations. The north zone runs from Saddle Road (located at the north end of Lincoln Hills Drive) to the north and opens back up on May 1. The south zone runs from Saddle Road above and south to I-90 and reopens March 15. Of course, you're still free to hike up to the L, as well as the U.S. West road, which runs parallel to I-90. Just be sure to have your dog leashed, okay? Visit missoulaparks.org or call Morgan Valliant at 552-6263.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's begin this week with a tasty potluck, specifically, a free Christmas Potluck with the Montana Native Plant Society which starts at 6:30 PM, Thu., Dec. 10 in the Del Brown Room of UM's Turner Hall. Plan to go if you've already been on outings with these folks, or if you're just curious to learn more about the club. Be sure to bring plates, utensils and a dish to share, as well as any digital photos of native plants you took over the summer. Call Peter at 728-8740 or visit mtnativeplants.org.
On Fri., Dec. 11, all snow zealots ought to take a trip either to Bozeman or near White Sulphur Springs as both Bridger Bowl and the Showdown Montana ski area open that day. Bozeman's Bridger Bowl will be open at 9 AM for ripping and costs $45 for an adult day-pass, or $37 for a half-day pass. Showdown Montana—located at 2850 US Hwy 89 S., about 40 miles north of White Sulphur Springs, near the town of Niehart—opens at 9:30 AM and an adult all-day pass is $35, while a half-day pass is $29. Be sure to check conditions, though, as the weather could prove unsavory. For Bridger, call the snow phone at 586-2389 or click over to bridgerbowl.com, and for Showdown, call the powder line at 771-1300 or visit showdownmontana.com.
If you're able to zoom back to Missoula that night, meet with those mountainous crevice climbers known as the Rocky Mountaineers during their holiday party, which starts at 6 PM, Fri., Dec. 11 at the upstairs dining area of The Press Box, 835 E. Broadway St. It's free for all to attend, but dinner and drinks are on your own tab. I'd suggest going if you'd like to network with these hiking/climbing enthusiasts. E-mail Forest at email@example.com, or ring him at 240-7612, and visit rockymountaineers.com.
As Sat., Dec. 12 rears its relaxed head, appease your urge to spend it in the snow by heading back over to the Bozeman area in order to enjoy the first day of public skiing at Big Sky's Moonlight Basin. The mountain is slated to open at 9 AM with a full-day adult ticket running you $55, while a half-day ticket costs $45. As always, check the snow report before you hit I-90 by calling 993-6666 or visiting moonlightbasin.com.
Maybe you're one of those types that freaks out when shooting down a mountain on a pair of skis, but loves being able to glide around on them in Pattee Canyon. If that's the case, join members of the Missoula Nordic Ski Club for a classic technique ski clinic by Kellie Carim at 10 AM Sat., Dec. 12 at the Pattee Canyon ski trail. If conditions are bad, plans change, so click to missoulanordic.org for updates and info on other upcoming events. From what I can tell the event is free, but they do want you to join their club if you'd like to continue to participate in its activities. A one-year membership costs $18 for one person, or $30 per family, with more details on their website.
When the workweek hits Mon., Dec. 14, all runners should get tips on "How to Stay Motivated to Run/Walk in the Winter" when professional runner Courtney Babcock leads a lecture on the topic at 7 PM at Runner's Edge, 325 N. Higgins Ave. Cost TBA/Free for Run Wild Missoula members. Includes tips on how to dress appropriately and how to avoid bodily injury while running/walking on snow and ice. Visit runwildmissoula.org.
If running after birds suits you better, make sure you bolt to one of two discussions regarding upcoming Audubon Society Christmas bird counts on Mon., Dec. 14. The first is hosted by the Flathead Audubon Society's Dan Casey and starts at 7 PM in the Community Room of The Summit, 205 Sunnyview Lane in Kalispell. Free. Call 837-0181 and visit flatheadaudubon.org. Your second option is closer to home when Larry Weeks and Jim Brown of the Five Valley's Audubon Society discuss the Missoula count at 7:30 PM, in Room L14 of UM's Gallagher Business Building. Free. Visit fvamissoula.org.
Before I leave you this week, I've got two more important events that just burst onto my horizon. The first is the Missoulians On Bicycles Holiday Party/ Cycling Presentation, which starts at 6:30 PM in the Multi-Purpose Room of Paxson School, 101 Evans St. Free, but bring a dish to share and visit missoulabike.org.
Finally, learn how to alert others when you're in danger of burial by snow during an avalanche transceiver clinic, which you need to sign up for by Wed., Dec. 16 at UM's Outdoor Program, in UM's Fitness and Recreation Center. $15, includes instruction and beacons, with the clinic itself running from 9 AM–2 PM on Sat., Dec. 19. Call 243-5172.
At this point, I'll part with some advice: Bundle up, brave the elements, eat well and play hard, but be safe.