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Mountain High

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Imagine it's 70 degrees outside, the sun is shining brightly and you just suited up into some waterproof gear. Soon enough, you slip into a kayak and start paddling down a pristine waterway. After a little while, you notice some seriously gnarly rapids ahead. Your heart starts beating and excitement settles in, along with a little bout of panic. It's your second or third time doing this, and your skills aren't perfect, but you know you can do it. But then you wake up. Dream or reality? Could be real if you take note:

This week, turn any uncertainty about your whitewater kayaking skills into a gushing stream of confidence during a Montana River Association-sponsored Whitewater Kayak Pool Session, which occurs Thu., Feb. 18, from 6–8 PM at Currents Aquatics Center, 600 Cregg Lane. $15, includes MRA membership/$5 MRA members. If this tugs your kayak, so to speak, expect to work on roll practices, wet exits and other exercises. RSVP by calling 370-4436 or 721-2437.

If getting wet doesn't fulfill your dreams then head over to Missoula's REI, 2230 N. Reserve St. Ste. 300, on Thu., Feb. 18, at 7 PM so you can whet your adventure whistle with a free orienteering and navigation clinic specifically tailored for April's GrizzlyMan Adventure Race. Race directors Joshua Phillips and Kyle Balke plan to whisk you through a burly session of topographic map reading, coordinate plotting and dead reckoning skills. Call 829-0432.

Next up we have something from those peak addicts the Rocky Mountaineers, who aim to rock out with their snowshoes out on Sat., Feb. 20, during a snowshoe/or skis-with-skins jaunt up Trapper Peak in the Bitterroots. Plan to meet at the totally not-so-early hour of 6:15 AM at the old Big Lots parking lot, off of Brooks St., to then carpool to the destination. Trip leader Shawn Bennett indicates you might not be able to drive very far up the creek's road, so be prepared for a long day on your feet, estimated at 18 miles round trip. Give him a ring beforehand at 493-4892 to RSVP, or he's not gonna show.

Then again you could watch others get dirty with white stuff while munching on flesh Sat., Feb. 20, during Lost Trail Powder Mountain's Winterfest Steakfry and Slopestyle, which starts at 9:30 AM or thereabouts at Lost Trail, located near the Montana/Idaho border off Hwy. 93. It appears to be free to attend, but I'd call 821-3211 just to make sure. As for the fest itself, it features the slopestyle competition, ski patrol steak cook-off, snow sculpture contest and drawings. Visit losttrail.com.

On Sun., Feb. 21, keep telling yourself that the bird truly is the word as you make your way up north to meet with members of the Flathead Audubon Society to "Wander in the Mission Valley." You won't be aimlessly walking around though, as members indicate you'll be on the hunt to scope out a host of wintering migrant birds including snow buntings, hawks, owls and falcons. Hit the road early so you can meet at the Park n' Ride, at the intersection of highways 93 and 83 near Somers, at 8 AM. Free. RSVP by calling Leslie Kehoe at 837-4467.

Rather than ogling birds, keep your eyes open Sun., Feb. 21, for a frosty prize whilst donning spandex gear and heaving around cross-country skis during The Great American Broken Binding Race, a Nordic ski marathon which starts with registration for 48 km/32 km racers at 8:30 AM at Whitefish's Stillwater Mountain Lodge and Nordic Center, 750 Beaver Lake Road. Registration for 16 km/3.2 km racers follows at 11:30 AM at the center. The 48 km/32 km race starts at 10 AM, while the 16 km/3.2 km race starts at 1 PM. $35/$30 advance/$5 youth 3.2 km race. Call 862-7004 and visitstillwatermtnlodge.com.

Little nippers ages 5–12 get their freak on with slalom action on Sun., Feb. 21, during the Whitefish Mountain Resort's Tommy Moe Kids' League Slalom Competition, which starts with registration at 9 AM at the Fireside Room, complimentary coaching at 10 AM, followed by the competition from 1–3 PM, all at the resort, 3840 Big Mountain Road outside of Whitefish. $12 per participant. Call 862-2909 and visit skiwhitefish.com.

Sun., Feb. 21, also offers hardcore two-wheelers the chance to get down and gritty on pavement during the first Missoulians on Bicycles ride of the year, which starts at 10 AM with a meet-up at the Eastgate Parking lot near UM's footbridge. Ride leader Wayne Kruse plans to cruise to East Missoula for an easy 15-mile ride, which includes a stop at River City Grill for some lunch for ya grill. Free, but if you'd like to continue to ride with the group, their insurance coverage mandates that you need to join the club. So do it. Visit missoulabike.org and call Wayne at 721-3095.

On Mon., Feb. 22, you can sign up your little mister or miss for an impending slaughter during a free hunter education course for people ages 11 or older, which begins on Mon., March 8, and runs all week from 6:30–9 PM in Florence. Sign-up Feb. 22, at 6 PM at Florence High School, 5602 Old Hwy. 93. Parents must accompany students under age 18. Call 542-5500.

Slip into Tue., Feb. 23, by remembering to sign up for yet another UM Outdoors Program-sponsored cross-country ski excursion with outdoors guru Lee Metzgar which occurs on Sat., Feb. 27. $30, includes instruction, rentals and transportation. Call 243-5172 to RSVP.

Will that relative of the rabbit stay, or will it go? I'm not sure either, but you might ask that question on Wed., Feb. 24, when UM student Shannon Hilty leads the talk "Climate Change and the American Pika," at 7 PM at the Montana Natural History Center,120 Hickory St. $4 suggested donation. Call 327-0405, visit montananaturalist.org or check out the news story in this issue.

With that, let's get to it, shall we?

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