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Mountain High

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Cyclocross bicycling freaks, it's time to get down and dirty. This weekend, you and your fellow cyclists can pedal fast and carry your bike around an array of wicked obstacles like the "Hellgate Cyclery Spiral of Death" and the "Caffe Dolce Calf Cramper" during Montana Cyclocross' annual Rolling Thunder race, which kicks off with registration at 9 AM on Sat., Oct. 16, at the American Legion Sports Complex, off Spurgin Road. Races for kids begin at 11:30 AM, followed by first-timer races for men and women, and more advanced races for expert riders later in the day. Here's the price breakdown: $25/$20 pre-registered adults/$5 juniors and first time racers. The race also features music, plus beer on tap, so even if you don't plan to race you might as well cheer on these hardcore locals, don't you think? Hit up sportsbaseonline.com to register online, and visit montanacyclocross.com for more info and a course map. Call Shaun at 544-5270.

But before you get too grimy, let's move back a few days. On Thu., Oct. 14, celebrate the legacy of our beautiful neighbor to the north when the Clark Fork Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society presents a talk with Peter Lesica titled "Discovering the Jewels in the Crown: A Century of Botany in Glacier National Park," which starts at 7:30 PM in Room L09 of UM's Gallagher Business Building. Free. Visit mtnativeplants.org/content/index/25.

Have a brew and shoot the bull with your fellow environmentalists on Fri., Oct. 15, when the UM Environmental Law Group hosts its annual Bulls, Blues and Brews Benefit and Silent Auction, which features appetizers and drinks, plus music by The Discount Quartet and guests, starting at 6 PM at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts, 200 N. Adams St. $10 at the door. Proceeds raised go towards two environmental organizations: Environmental Legal Education Network and Cottonwood Environmental Center. Call Dave at 651-216-1085.

If you'd like to give Gaia some love on Sat., Oct. 16, consider joining the Sierra Club and West Slope Chapter of Trout Unlimited when both groups host a free Fish Creek Watershed Restoration Project, which begins with a meet-up (with transportation provided) at 8:30 AM at the Missoula Public Library, 301 E. Main St. You could also meet at the southside of the Fish Creek exit off I-90 at 9:15 AM. From that point, you'll spread some native seeds around upland road ripped areas, conifer re-vegetation sites, and mixed riparian and conifer sites. Bring work gloves, appropriate shoes and clothing, plus water. Lunch is provided. RSVP by calling 543-1192 or by e-mailing rroberts@tu.org.

Tap into your inner John Muir or Rachel Carson on Sat., Oct. 16, during the Montana Natural History Center's (MNHC) "Fall Discovery Day: Fall Naturalist Hike," which begins at 9 AM at the MNHC, 120 Hickory St. Free. What follows is a splendid day outside with naturalist Marcia Kircher as you observe fall colors and refresh your naturalist skills. Visit montananaturalist.org.

Go ahead and try running with a pumpkin on your head Sat., Oct. 16, during Run Wild Missoula's Pumpkin Run, a 400 meter kids run and 5k race for adults that begins with day-of registration at 8:45 AM, followed by the children's race at 9:45 AM, and the 5k at 10 AM, all at the Bandmann Trail, just off Deer Creek Road east of Missoula. $13/$10 Run Wild Missoula members/$3 for the kids run. Note that proceeds benefit the Missoula Food Bank. Visit runwildmissoula.org for details.

Get a glimpse of why wolves and cougars are good for nature on Tue., Oct. 19, during a screening of Lords of Nature: Life in a Land of Great Predators, which explores the role predators have in maintaining ecosystems and biodiversity, and begins at 7 PM at the University Center Theater. Free, with a panel discussion from local experts following the film. Visit lordsofnature.org.

On Wed., Oct. 20, feast your eyes on an array of used outdoors goods and pick up something for your next peak bagging expedition during the UM Outdoor Program's Used Outdoor Gear Sale, which runs from noon–5 PM at the atrium in the University Center. Free to attend. If you plan to sell your gear, bring it to the UC between 7–11 AM, and pick it up between 5–7 PM. The Outdoor Program collects 15 percent of the sale price from your gear. Call 243-5172.

Later on Wed., Oct. 20, dig into the MNHC-sponsored presentation "American Indian Hunting and Tool Technologies," which is led by Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal member Tim Ryan and touches on traditional approaches of obtaining food and materials through indigenous science/technology, and starts at 7 PM at the MNHC, 120 Hickory St. $4/free members. Visit montananaturalist.org.

Or you could spend the night with some spelunkers when the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto of the National Speleological Society meets at 7 PM Wed., Oct. 20, in Room L14 of UM's Gallagher Business Building. The meeting includes a presentation on "Cave Sediments and Climate Change" by Michael McEachern, and anyone who has been caving since the last meeting is welcome to share digital pictures of their recent exploits. Free. Visit caves.org/grotto/nrmg.

Finish off the week by learning how to properly stomp around in fresh powder with your snowshoes when REI Missoula presents its "Snowshoeing Basics" class on Thu., Oct. 21, at REI Missoula, 3275 N. Reserve St. Ste. K-2. Free. Visit rei.com/stores/72 to register. Call 541-1938.

And before I let you go, I want to give you the heads up about a restoration project to catch next week. It's a willow harvesting project that's sponsored by the West Slope Chapter of Trout Unlimited and occurs Sat., Oct. 23. The project consists of harvesting willows in order for them to be planted in riparian areas near Lolo National Forest roads along Trout Creek. Free. E-mail Heather at hwhiteley@tu.org for details.

Okay, now who's got a fresh pumpkin for me?

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