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Mountain High



In heavy eating times such as these, we offer a primer on healthy digestion. While health “experts” such as nutritionists and physicians might advise the La-Z-Boy equivalent of three-months’ bed rest following a meal, you can trust your Comrade Calendar to take a different tack. Get out there. Burn up them calories, even if the painful stitches leave you doubled up in the middle of Higgins Avenue. Take Rocky’s lead, run up the steps of the courthouse, even if there are only about 10 or so. Maybe do sets of five.

The evening constitutional, a sort of benign saunter around the neighborhood following ingestion, is a fading tradition whose rebirth is long overdue. One of the best constitutionals I’ve taken happened a few Thanksgivings ago, in between the bird and the dessert. We walked up to the Lowell School playground to visit the turtle pond, which has since been replaced by a splash deck with water-dumping buckets and a drooling dragon. On seeing the four concrete turtles stoically facing the grate at the center of their concave terrarium, inspiration struck: Hungry Hungry Hippos.

We rushed home—indigestion be damned—to gather bikes and more players. In imitation of the clattering Milton Bradley classic, cyclists rode in tight circles, both counter- and clockwise, around the grate while players perched on the turtles-cum-hippos, awaiting an opening. When the time seemed right, someone would burst forth into the fray, dodging knobby tires and the occasional elbow in their quest for the safety of the center. The return trip was just as perilous.

So if you engage in no other outdoor activity this week, take a walk with your feastmates, dream up a game to play and help your food find its rightful path.

On the other hand, the calendar says we’re getting into the ski season, so you’d think there would be little reason to remain in the confines of your neighborhood. After their burst from the starting gate, that cold November rain has shaved a bit off of Lookout Pass’ lead—they plan to remain closed until Thanksgiving Day, Thu., Nov. 23, just like the majority of Montana’s skiing destinations. Lookout Pass reports no new snow as of Mon., Nov. 20, with a 19-inch base and 34 inches at the summit.

Big Mountain plans to open Nov. 23, though they admit that in reality it’s all up to Mother Nature. In an effort to sway the great Earth mother, the free 34th Annual “Pray For Snow” Party takes place in the Bierstube in Big Mountain Village on Sat., Nov. 25. A massive bonfire and ritual sacrifices to the Norse snow god Ullr begin the evening at 7 PM, with music and merrymaking continuing into the wee hours. Traditionally, Ullr has rewarded devotees with snow dumps within 48 hours of the ceremonies, so get up there and do your part, Viking or not.

As of Tue., Nov. 12, Snowbowl reports a mere 12 inches at the summit, though it’s getting pretty chilly up there. The plan is to open the day after Thanksgiving, Ullr permitting, so keep your finger on that pulse for the ultra-local option.

Discovery Ski Area near Georgetown Lake is showing light snow accumulation, with just six inches of powder at the summit. While the resort hopes to begin lifting guests by Thanksgiving Day, the Discovery website paints a more realistic picture with the admission, “we’d like to open sometime soon.” Stay tuned.

While you’re waiting for enough snow to fall to dull the sound of rocks scraping your freshly waxed boards, you might take a moment to read this week’s feature article on the future of skiing in Montana. While it’s probably not scientifically sound to infer much from our present lack of snow, the scarcity’s timing is a fitting backdrop to the story.

And here’s a sincere hats-off to the a local group working to make my job here a little easier by continuing to sponsor events through the rough holiday week. The Rocky Mountaineers begin their annual Classic Series of trips this week. I’m not sure whether there’s a prize for completion of all 14, but since they’re spread out over the course of a year, you have plenty of time to lobby for some sort of medal or ribbon. This week, the snow conditions will be the ultimate “decider,” but a ski trip at Lolo Pass is scheduled to take place on Sun., Nov. 26, so give Julie Kahl a call at 543-6508 if you’re interested.

With these brief tidbits of outdoor activity from which to choose, I leave you to forge your own recreational plan for the week. Take to the hills, initiate your own polar bear plunge, make good on your New Year’s resolution to become a skateboarder. Or organize a live action version of a board game at your nearest cement turtle pond, one of which remains intact across the street from Sacajawea Park. Here’s an idea: how about that old brain-buster Simon?

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