Looks like Montana’s favorite shortcut is out of commission for the rest of the year. That’s right: through travel on Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed until next year. Usually, the pass starts filling up with snow around now anyway; this year, though, a mudslide took out the slope under 50 feet of the road east of Logan Pass. This is still a great time of year to see the park, though. One of my favorite hiking trips in memory was a mid-October excursion through Swiftcurrent Pass; you’ve just got to take the long way around to get there now.
Not that there isn’t good hiking to be done in Missoula. You might have noticed that the route up Mt. Jumbo keeps moving lately. That’s the work of the Missoula Parks and Recreation Volunteer Stewards, who have been re-routing trails on Mt. Jumbo’s south face in order to stave off erosion. They’re having another Jumbo trail session for ages 16 and up Saturday, Oct. 15, from 8 AM to noon; tools, transportation from McCormick Park and lunch come with the deal. Call 721-PARK if you’ve still got questions.
Is 8 AM too early for you to get up and do trailwork? Consider going to the Sierra Club’s Sawmill Gulch Work Day, which doesn’t start until 9:30 AM Saturday, Oct. 15. The Work Day, held in conjunction with the Society of American Foresters, is a chance to reduce fuel loads along the urban/wildland interface; volunteers will pile brush and small-diameter trees while representatives from the Lolo National Forest make sure everything stays under control. Call 549-1142 or 626-5858 or just meet at the main Rattlesnake trailhead.
While you’re up there, try not to get tangled with the group being led by bear biologists Chuck and Jamie Jonkel, unless, of course, you’d rather walk and talk with them in the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area this Saturday, Oct. 15. Word is that the group is meeting up at 10 AM at the main Rattlesnake trailhead and they’ll be exploring areas with heavy bear sign and, perhaps, even a den. After the Rattlesnake portion, the plan is to head to Greenough Park and look for sign in that area. All in all, the excursion should last about four hours. Call 329-3814 to get more info.
And there’s still one more Rattlesnake event this weekend. The Rocky Mountaineers are heading up Walman Trail in the Rattlesnake on Saturday, Oct. 15. The trip is eight miles with 1,500 feet of elevation gain and stays in a no-hunting zone on its way to a summit with a view. Call 721-4686 to get a piece of the action.
Feel like running instead of hiking? Join the Pumpkin Run, which benefits the Missoula Food Bank and takes place Oct. 15 along the Bitterroot River at Maclay Flats. The 5K run begins at 10 AM, following a 400M kids’ run at 9:45 AM. Registration—$3 for kids and $6 for adults—begins at 8:45 AM. Call 542-1257.
How about traveling? There are a couple of options to get you out of town and into the world beyond your borders.
Some people like to travel solo, which can be intimidating, but I believe it’s the best way to see just how welcoming strangers can be. For example, a friend of mine just got back from traveling in southern Africa; she describes many terrific and entirely friendly encounters with the local people, despite the fact that she was repeatedly and strenuously warned against exploring on her own.
From the sound of it, noted bicyclist and world traveler Willie Weir had a similar experience during his bike ride across South Africa. Weir will describe his trip during “Fear and Hospitality: A Journey Through South Africa.” That presentation takes place in the Urey Lecture Hall on the UM campus at 7 PM on Thursday, Oct. 20.
If going with a group sounds more like your style, learn about getting out of town with the Sierra Club at the Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave., at 7 PM on Thursday, Oct. 20, when Linda Cooper and Dick Yeaw—two travelers who have led excursions all over the world—talk about their travels, show pictures and try to get you inspired to tag along or lead a trip of your own.
Finally, figure out what to do when civilization ends and self-reliance begins when Gene Ward, a nationally known wilderness guide, visits REI’s 2230 N. Reserve St. location, to present a clinic on “Wilderness Survival Skills” from 6:30 to 7:45 PM on Wednesday, Oct. 19.
And whatever you’re up to, keep me informed.