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Mountain High

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Once February rolls around, it's easy to become a sloth. Weekend days camped out on the couch watching two and three movies, maybe two and three episodes of "Downton Abbey," too. Meals are chock-full of cheese and bacon. Yellow and red bags of Fritos take the place of green salads on the old TV tray. A fingertip of blue cheese and beers for dessert. That's the example some of us are setting for the kids. Not the folks at The Backwoods Project, however. Their goal is two-fold: keep kids active year-round and develop a freestyle terrain park that is available to anyone with a lift ticket.

After three years of work, things are coming together. Snowbowl is back onboard after a bit of wrangling and is developing a freestyle park, according to Executive Director and founder of the project Gregg Janecky. And, in what seems like no surprise, Janecky says the Missoula community has come through and become receptive to the group's vision of having a viable freestyle arena easily accessible to local children.

This weekend, The Backwoods Project hosts its main event and fundraiser, Ride Montana III, at Marshall Mountain. The event features a public park from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m, with a contest beginning at 1 p.m. On Saturday, the contest will be judged by the participants, while Sunday's event will have a panel of adult judges. Both days will have cash prizes for those who twist off the kindest, dankest moves. With the popularity of the contest growing each year (expect a couple hundred kids to take part), best you set a good example: get up early, have a healthy breakfast and take the kids outside for some good clean fun. Netflix ain't going anywhere.

Ride Montana III takes place at the Marshall Mountain Ski Area on Sat., Feb. 18, and Sun., Feb. 19, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Cost is $15 for two days and $10 for an individual day. Currently, The Backwoods Project seeks donations of toilet paper, paper towels and traction sand for the event. To donate, email gregg@thebackwoodsproject.com. For more info., go to thebackwoodsproject.com.

THURSDAY FEBRUARY 16

The folks at the Montana Natural History Center teach the young 'uns how to observe and connect with nature at the miniNaturalists Pre-K Program. For ages 2–5. 120 Hickory St. 10–11 AM. $3/$1 members.

FRIDAY FEBRUARY 17

Big Sky Resort has more than airborne lift chairs for your pleasure. They also have the weekend-long Big Sky Big Grass Bluegrass Festival. Go skiing. Listen to music. Repeat until Sunday. bigskyresort.com.

Active outdoor lovers are invited to the Mountain Sports Club's (formerly the Flathead Valley Over the Hill Gang) weekly meeting to talk about being awesome, past glories and upcoming activities. Swan River Inn. 6–8 PM. Free.

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 18

Hey pilgrims, the Montana FWP in Missoula is hosting a Trapper Education Class. Participants receive training in ethics, rules, identification and equipment. Kids under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. 3201 Spurgin. 8:30–5 PM. Free. Call 542-5500 for more info.

Stop being a dumb pilgrim and learn the ways of the woods at Northwest Connections' Animal Tracking Clinic a two-day course taught by local outfitters and naturalists held at the group's homestead. $150/$75 for Seeley-Swan residents. Lodging $15 per night. Learn more at northwestconnections.org.

I believe that children are our future, so take them to Lone Pine State Park's Snow Stompers Program Under the Winter Water, which focuses on aquatic critters that live under the ice. Kalispell, 300 Lone Pine Rd. 11–12 PM. $3.

Join a ranger from Lone PIne State Park in Kalispell for a Winter Discovery Snow Shoe Hike. BYOSS or rent a set from the park for $5. Familes with kids 10 and up welcome. 1–2 PM. Call Mary Beth at 755-2706 ext. 2.

SUNDAY FEBRUARY 19

Stretch them legs (it's almost bikini season!) by joining the Montana Wilderness Association's Winter Wilderness Walk at Monture Creek Trail. The hike is 6-10 miles and is considered a moderate jaunt. Contact Christian to sign-up at (847) 757-4077.

MONDAY FEBRUARY 20

At Slacker Mondays, from 6 PM until close, slackline fans can come to Freestone Climbing Center at 935 Toole Ave. to test their balance. $13/$10 for students. Visit freestoneclimbing.com.

TUESDAY FEBRUARY 21

Learn what you need to have a hot rod hootenanny in the woods during REI's Snowshoeing Basics classic. 3275 N. Reserve. 6:30–8 PM. Free.

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