Fact: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) mainly effects those who sit in front of the TV all winter waiting for summer and bloating their bellies with cheese fries and spettekaka. We'll forgive you those culinary dalliances as long as you promise to get off the couch and into the great big old outdoors just once this week. Before you cluck your tongue and roll your eyes at my words, know this: I am not asking you to do anything but dress comfortably, pack a lunch and pull out the binoculars you received for subscribing to Sports Illustrated back in 1989. No back-country hikes. No snowshoes. No energy bars required.
Besides, we're only a short drive from the Mission Valley and its multitudes of wintering raptors and other birds, which spend their winter-tide days at the Pablo and Ninepipe national wildlife refuges wiling the days away hunting for mice and lazing about power lines. But if you can't tell a bald eagle from a cat, you might as well join some of the area's most ardent fans of birds, Five Valley Audubon. The group is tracking up to the Mission Valley for its annual viewing of winter raptors, including rough-legged hawks and northern harriers. With these eagle-eyed bird lovers by your side you are sure to learn something, see something and maybe pick up a wintertime hobby that won't break the bank (unless you start buying $2,500 Swarovski spotting scopes). Remember, winter vacation is for the birds.
Five Valley Audubon's trip to the Mission Valley to view winter raptors departs from the middle of the Adams Center Fieldhouse parking lot on Sat., Feb. 25, at 8 AM, or you can meet them at the Cenex on the south side of Ronan at 9 AM. Please bring weather-appropriate clothing and a lunch. Free. fvamissoula.org.
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 23
Get on up, ah, to the Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup Lecture Series where James Brown of Five Valleys Audubon speaks about Birds and Conservation in the Greater Missoula Area. Ninemile Ranger Station. 20325 Remount Rd. 7 PM. Free. ninemilewildlife.org.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 24
During its 2nd Harvest Food Drive Ski Lookout has an offer for you: Bring three cans of food today and receive a lift ticket. 'Nuff said. skilookout.com.
Things get dangerous in the backcountry, give yourself a bit more knowledge to protect yourself during Missoula Avalanche's Level 1 Avalanche Class for Snowmobilers. There is an evening class, plus two days in the field. 5 PM. $150. For more info. call the UM Outdoor Program at 243-5172. missoulaavalanche.org.
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 25
Have a sit-down steak dinner, maybe win a new rifle and help support Ravalli County Fish and Wildlife Association during their 30th Banquet to Benefit Wildlife. Ravalli County Fairgrounds. TIME $35. rcfwa.org.
Pack a lunch and get out to view winter raptors with names like Northern Harrier and Rough-legged hawk! Badass. Five Valleys Audubon leads the way. Meet in the middle of the Adams Center Fieldhouse parking lot at 8 AM or the Cenex on the south side of Ronan at 9 AM. All are welcome.
Have some fun in the snow and seek out treasure during the Marshall Mountain Adventures geo-caching event. Use GPS to find goodies in the snow and get some exercise. Co-sponsored by REI and Missoula Parks and Rec. Marshall Mountain Ski Area. 10–3 PM.
Yo jibbers, time to show off your swag and steez during Lost Trail's Steezin' for no Reason Slopestyle. Any and all are welcome to attend or participate. Registration from 9 AM–1 PM, slopestyle at 1 PM. Prizes and schwag, of course. $10.
The good eggs at Trout Unlimited are hosting a Banquet and Auction to Raise Money for Cold Water Conservation. Silent and live auctions with tons of insane fishing-related prizes and a steak dinner, c'mon do it (no need to be a TU member). Hilton Garden Inn. Doors at 5:30 PM. $50. westslopetu.org.
Down the 'Root you gotta fine old event, the Selway Bitterroot Foundation's Montana 2012 Winter Gathering and Fundraiser with NPS archeologist Pei-Lin Yun who spent two years living with the Pume people of Venezuela. Auction, snacks and drinks. Hamilton City Hall. 6:30–9 PM. Free. selwaybitterroot.org.
MONDAY FEBRUARY 27
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.
Learn the little things that make shredding the kind so much sicker at REI's Basic Ski and Snowboard Maintenance. 3275 N. reserve. 6:30–8 PM. Free.
THURSDAY MARCH 1
You'll be climbing up a wall at Freestone Climbing Center's Ladies Night. 935 Toole Ave. 5–10 PM. $6.50/$5 students.