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Mountain High



Who noticed the white stuff that recently reappeared on the peaks around the valley? I did, primarily because this is the time of year when a young man’s fancy turns to snow and all the fun a person can have in it. But before we get to snow season, we need to exit fire season.

The process of doing that is underway. The city of Missoula has ended the closure of city open space on Mount Sentinel, Mount Jumbo and the North Hills effective immediately. In addition, southwest Montana is down to Stage I fire restrictions, which means you can use charcoal briquettes in developed campgrounds with metal or concrete fire rings. Burning wood in rock fire rings is still a no-go, as is smoking outside a building or vehicle.

The only real way to keep wildfires from starting is to coat the state in snow. Sounds good to me. And the word from Glacier National Park is that they’ve already gotten started with a foot on the ground at Logan Pass and two feet at Granite Park Chalet, resulting in closures on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. By the time you read this, the roads should be clear, but stay alert for future precip if you’re headed to Glacier. Everyone loves snow, but few people like getting caught in two feet of it without the right gear.

That bit of advice goes for anyone headed up north this weekend as Larry Evans, Missoula’s mushroom man, leads a Glacier Institute class called “Fall Mushroom Foray” Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18. While foraying, you’ll learn to use a botanical guide to identify fungi and also take short excursions into prime mushroom habitat to learn the difference between fungus nutritious and noxious. Call 755-1211 to get registered.

Speaking of noxious things, the Montana Natural History Center does double duty in the War on Invasive Plant Species this week. (Who says war is a tired metaphor?) On Saturday, Sept 17, at 11 AM, MNHC and Prairie Keepers invite you to pull knapweed and scatter wildflower seeds on Mount Sentinel; likewise, you can practice native plant rescue skills on the native prairie at Fort Missoula at 6 PM on Tuesday, Sept. 20. The native prairie is located at the base of the water tower. Call 327-0405 if you’re not sure that landmark is big enough.

Still itching for some natural do-goodin’? On Saturday, Sept. 17, the Missoula Department of Parks & Rec and REI team up to do some cleanup on the Tower Street property along the Clark Fork River, out west of Reserve St. If you want to help haul out old garbage and maybe do some trail work, report to the Parks & Rec building at the corner of Hickory St. and Cregg Lane near McCormick Park at 8 AM. From there, volunteers will shuttle out to the property where you’ll work until noon and then get some free pizza. Dress for the weather and bring gloves. Call 721-PARK if you need more info.

If you usually spend Saturday morning jogging along the Clark Fork River, you might want to pick a new spot this weekend because the 2005 Fall Festival River Run Relay—a three-leg leg, 15K relay on the River Trail between the Loyola playing fields and Madison Street—takes place at 9 AM on Saturday, Sept. 17. If you and two friends want to sign up for the run, which benefits Missoula Catholic Schools, you can get more information by calling 728-2367.

There are a couple of group hike options to explore in lieu of your jog. On Saturday, Sept. 17, you can head up the needle-like profile of North Trapper Peak in the Bitterroots with the New Rocky Mountaineers. The climb features three miles of trail climbing, a traverse of alpine country and an ascent up a knife-edge ridge with 1,000-foot drops in either direction. Call 549-4769 to sign up for the excursion.

Also on Saturday, Sept. 17, the long-established Rocky Mountaineers plan a trip up Warren Peak in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. I don’t have more details but Jim Wilson does; give him a call at 546-8617.

Ever think “I should be writing this down” while you’re out in the woods? Learn how when the Sierra Club sponsors a field journaling and nature writing workshop at Lewis and Clark Pass, near Lincoln, on Sunday, Sept. 18. The field workshop will cover about 10 miles of intermediate terrain during the course of the day. Call 543-0702 to sign up.

Also worth noting is that the Sierra Club rescheduled last week’s planned assent of Lolo Peak for this Saturday, Sept. 17, on account of the rain. So if you’re one of the 14 who bagged it because you heard rain outside of the bedroom window last Saturday, or someone who’s just learning of the chance to hike up Lolo, call 549-1142.

The Bob Marshall Foundation invites you to spend the week doing trail work, maintaining drainage structures, clearing downfall and marking overgrown trails with cairns from Saturday, Sept. 17, to Saturday, Sept. 24. You’ll be based out of the Pentagon Cabin and working on Pentagon Creek, Pivot Mountain and Elk Ridge. Sign up for some tough love of the wildlands by calling 863-5411.

Do a snow dance. Then send me your outdoor plans.

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