Mountain High

May 24, 2012

Who amongst us hasn't briefly fantasized about becoming a mountain man or woman? Forget "briefly." During hunting season, it's a constant thought for me. But my imagineering doesn't involve too many fantasies of a carefree life in the out-of-doors; instead, it is full of skepticism and fear. You see, I am a poor hunter. I am out of shape. I am always hungry. I sweat. A lot. I have not recently killed an elk, and I missed a deer from 10 yards distant this past season. I fear that if I had to feed and support myself, as well as earn money from pelts, I most likely would've frozen to death/ starved to death/eaten poisonous berries to death/fallen from my mule to death/been bitten by poisonous spiders to death/been eaten by a wolverine to death/kidnapped by a tribe of beautiful French maidens and made to be their slave, sexually, to death (Hey, it's my imagineering.). That said, there are plenty of men and women out there who are hardier than me. Folks who probably could go back in time and make a go of it in the wilderness. Some of these folks might be at the 31st annual Wild Horse Rendezvous sponsored by the Sapphire Mountain Men. Even if you're not a hardy soul, you and the family may still enjoy the goings on. There are pre-1840-style camps set-up all weekend, with rendezvousers in period dress (no rubber soles/all handmade) cooking up grub in tin pans and cast iron over an open flame. Why 1840? This was the era before revolvers, before technology took over, when muskets used flintlock ignition systems rather than the more reliable percussion caps. Other events include black powder shooting competitions, as well as tomahawk, knife throwing and primitive archery contests, not to mention kids' activities galore. However, the highlight has to be Sunday's 1 p.m. cannon shoot, with participants firing cannon balls at a 55- gallon drum (post-1840s) about a hundred yards away. Come one, come all you flatlanders, and learn how your great-great-great grandpappy "Frenchy" St. LaCroix lived.

The 31st annual Wild Horse Rendezvous takes place from Fri., May 25, to Mon., May 28. Take Exit 70 (the Cyr exit) from I-90 and follow the signs. For a complete list of events and times, go to sapphiremtmen.blogspot.com.

FRIDAY MAY 25

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

Get back in shape and learn something new at Freestone Climbing Gym's Intro to Bouldering course, which introduces basic techniques, safety stuff, ethics and more. Class includes 1.5 hours of instruction and two weeks of unlimited climbing. 935 Toole. 7–8:30 PM. $40.

SATURDAY MAY 26

Be a looky loo and leave the driving to the lasses at the Montana Natural History Center during the Saturday Discovery Day: Loon Viewing up Seeley Lake way. Look for loons and check out the Loon and Fish Festival. $35/$30 members. RSVP at montananaturalist.org.

If you have birds on the brain, get onboard for the Audubon Trek to Bandy Ranch, near Upsata Lake in the Upper Blackfoot Valley. Meet at the UM Field House parking lot at 8 AM. Pack a lunch and call Larry at 549-5632 for more info. Free.

SUNDAY MAY 27

Pack up the little squabs and strap on your robot walkers for the Missoula Children and Nature Birding Adventure

With Five Valleys Audubon on the Kim Williams Trial. Spy scopes, games and bird-spotting galore. Meet at the Jacob's Island parking lot on the south side of the river near the Van Buren walking bridge, off of Campus Dr. 9–10:30 AM. Free. Visit missoulachildrenandnature.org.

Get back in shape and learn something new at Freestone Climbing Gym's Intro to Bouldering course, which introduces basic techniques, safety stuff, ethics and more. Class includes 1.5 hours of instruction and two weeks of unlimited climbing. 935 Toole. Noon–1:30 PM. $40.

MONDAY MAY 28

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 MAY 29

The Montana Native Plant Society makes your state better looking during the Dyer's Woad Pull at Mt. Sentinel. Meet at the trailhead with your sturdy shoes. 6:30 PM. For more info., call Marilyn at 544-7189.

WEDNESDAY MAY 30

Find yourself: The Rocky Mountaineers host a GPS Clinic at the Press Box. 6:30 PM. rockymountaineers.com for more info.

Learn about perching birds with award-winning science and natural history writer Kim Todd and UM associate professor and researcher Dr. Creagh Breuner during the Montana Natural History Center's Evening Lecture: Sparrow. 7 PM. $4/Free for members.

THURSDAY MAY 31

Drop the controller and check out this month's theme at the Montana Natural History Center's miniNaturalists Pre-K Program. This month's theme is Osprey. Pliny the Elder would approve. 120 Hickory St. 10–11 AM. $3/$1 for members. montananaturalist.org.

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