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Mountain High



Here it comes—August’s obligatory fire warning: yup, still dry in the woods, Sparky, which means that Southwest Montana remains under Stage II Fire Restrictions this week. That means no campfires, no smoking outside enclosures and no off-roading outside city limits whether you’re on private or public lands.

School starts this week so let’s begin with a reminder that learning doesn’t just happen when parents or the state are shoehorning you behind a desk. A prime example of taking the learning to a happy place is the work done in Glacier National Park by the folks at The Glacier Institute (yeah, I’m plugging for a free class).

This week, there are three offerings to appeal to the outdoor-inclined open mind. The first is a one-day “Geology Along the Highline Trail” course on Saturday, Aug. 27, that promises to serve up some fascinating information about the origins of the Park’s mountains and the billion-year-old rocks they’re made of, as well as provide insight into how millennia of glaciation shaped the Park’s arêtes, cirques, horns and valleys.

Also on the curriculum at TGI is Saturday, Aug. 27 and Sunday, Aug. 28’s “Two Medicine Lake Ecology by Sea Kayak,” which includes an on-shore introduction to the basics of sea kayaking along with a hands-on introduction to lake ecology.

Finally, on Thursday, Sept. 1, anyone 6 and older can learn about “Life in Glacier’s Streams: Stoneflies, Water Striders, Fish and More.” Call 755-1211 to get registration info for any of the classes.

Guided hikes are happening down south as well when the Lolo Trail Ranger leads a Saturday, Aug. 27, hike through a one-mile section of the Lolo Trail that starts where Lewis & Clark & Co. entered Packer Meadows on their 1805 hike. 2005’s guided hike leaves at 2 PM Missoula time from the Lolo Pass Visitor Center. Call 329-3936.

While you’re out in one of those mountain meadows resplendent with wildflowers and native bunch grasses, you could be collecting seeds for local restoration projects. Prairie Keepers will show you how at 6 PM on Tuesday, Aug. 30, during their Prairie Seed Collecting Workshop at the Fort Missoula Native Prairie.

An opportunity to fuse hiking and floating happens when the Sierra Club sponsors a weekend of tromping through the wildlands along the Missouri River in the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness Area on Saturday, Aug. 27, and Sunday, Aug. 28. The trip begins with a boat ride down the Missouri to the Meriwether campground, which will be followed by hiking and camping in the canyon carved by the river’s waters. The boat ride costs just $10 and the rest is free. Call 582-8365 x3011 for registration info.

For just plain old water fun head up to the first annual Flathead Monster Canoe and Kayak Challenge being put on Sunday, Aug. 28 by the Bigfork Outrigger Canoe Club. The day of paddling includes both recreational and competitive division races as well as an antique wooden boat show, bluegrass music, beer, food and hula dancing, as well as demos of something a little sportier than that aluminum tub with slats you’re pushing around right now. The entry fee is $25 per person or $50 per family. Call the Canoe Rack at 251-0040 for more info.

If you’re feeling like river instead of lake, you’re in luck. Jim Goss of the Mountaineers heads to the water when he leads a Clark Fork River trip on Saturday, Aug. 27. The trip departs from the Tarkio river access at 11 AM and heads downstream to Forest Grove, which means you’ll be passing through a couple of Class II & III rapids but can probably handle the trip in an inner tube or small raft. Bring a life jacket to keep you afloat and call 822-5000 to work out the shuttle.

If you’re hardcore or just like hanging out with people who are, check out the Garden City Triathalon on Saturday, Aug. 27. It’s a little late to start training for the swimming, running and cycling, but it’s definitely something you could get down to and cheer on the participants. And if you’re burly enough to go the distance, you can still register before 9 PM on Aug. 26. Also, if you want to be more than just a spectator, volunteers are needed. Call 549-2308 for more info.

If, in contrast, you look with fear upon outdoor listings that might involve breaking a sweat (and you’re a UM student), you can try out Campus Rec fitness classes for free from Monday, Aug. 29, through Friday, Sept. 2. Call 243-2804 to figure out the best way to quit your wheezing.

The air is clearing, so take a deep breath and then plunge into whatever you’re thinking about doing next. And let me know what it is.

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