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Mountain High


Hello outdoor enthusiasts! As you’re all so busy recreating in the wilds each week, you may not have time to seek out every last hidden treasure of yon untrammeled lands. With that in mind, and guided by the notion that anyone anywhere should have unfettered access to closely guarded secret spots of those who “found them on their own” or “were taken there once by their dad” or something, I hereby present Western Montana with Comrade Calendar’s Guide to The Best Mushroom and Elk Procurement Spots.

To begin, let’s have a look at the fungi. Everybody knows morels grow best in dark, wet areas, which is why I annually jack up Missoula’s abundant public art works—like the bronze fish in Caras Park, for example, and also that weird cat on Main Street—in order to scoop up the brownish gold growing thereunder. Also, an incredible grove of morels grows at the very apex of Lolo Peak, so get up there with your baskets before somebody else reads this.

If you’re looking for elk, take my advice and hang out in the alley behind one of Missoula’s many game processing spots. Brains and gutpiles are oft-overlooked sources of protein, and have greater staying power if scooped up fresh ‘n’ hot and frozen in a jiffy. For a crack at a real live elk, just head down to Darby’s Valley Bar, park the Subaru with Sacramento plates out front and ask anybody with a beard where they typically go. According to Montana’s Superhost tradition, they’ll probably offer to guide you on a private trip into the woods right then and there. Happy hunting!

We begin this week with a reminder that the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation could use a hand, so if you’re of a mind to take on a week-long—or shorter—project in service to the woods, give them a ring at 387-3808, or visit 

They say May snows bring June flowers, hence the strong floral theme running through Mountain High this week. Join Missoula conservation land manager Morgan Valliant for a Mount Jumbo Wildflower Walk at 7 PM on Thu., June 12, when you rendezvous at the Lincoln Hills trailhead. Call 327-0405.

Of course, the flower fun doesn’t stop there. Race off in search of the Bitterroot’s fabulous namesake during the Willoughby Wildflower Walk at 4 PM on Fri., June 13, the meet-up for which occurs in the Willoughby Environmental Education Area parking lot. Call 363-7172 for directions.

Some folks think flowers are for the birds, which is partly correct. While we’re on the topic of birds, I hereby recommend you attend an Audubon Society field trip to Lolo Pass, which leaves on Sat., June 14 at 8 AM from the UM Adams Center parking lot. They say you can expect lots of high mountain birds, though I wonder how you can tell if a bird’s high or not. Whatever. Call 327-1525.

We’ve tried and tried to get sex out of the schools, yet flower worshippers insist upon wafting their fecund organs in our faces. More of the same greets you when the Sierra Club hosts a Spring Wildflower Hike to Packer Meadow at 9 AM on Sat., June 14, the carpool for which meets up at Missoula’s Big Lots parking lot. A moderately strenuous hike, the venture will be cancelled in case of rain. Call 543-3755.

Take on a bit of waterrific knowledge when Paddle MT presents the third and final outing in their Ed-Ventures Series, Watershed, which begins at 10 AM on Sat., June 14. You’ve got some serious signing-up to do, so call 251-0040.

The cliff ghasts of the Rocky Mountaineers offer two lively jaunts on Sat., June 14. Bag Square Butte, which lies east of Great Falls, and appreciate the clear-day 100-mile view therefrom. Call Julie at 543-6508 about that one, or consider the closer option, East Missoula’s Woody Mountain—stop snickering—a three-quarter-day trip with Steve (721-4686) as your intrepid guide.

We’re running outta space, people, and there’s too much to report, so we transition to condensed format: On Sat., June 14, meet at 10 AM at the Coyote Coulee trailhead near Hamilton for a National Get Outdoors Day hike. Call 381-2951.

Honor dad with a little hard work on Sun., June 15, when you join up with the 15th annual Father’s Day Hike to Castle Rock once you meet up at 9 AM at the West Fork Ranger Station south of Darby. RSVP 825-6955.

The Dirt Girls ride their muddy bikes all over Mount Sentinel—to look for more flowers, no doubt—after they meet up at 6 PM at the Crazy Canyon Recreation Area parking lot on Tue., June 17. B.Y.O.Bike.

Missoula Parks & Recreation is interested in helping the next generation find mushrooms and elk, hence the Introduction to Outdoor Skills Class for kids aged 10–14, which begins at 9 AM on Wed., June 18, and includes info on map and compass skills, water filtration, shelter building, knot tying and outdoor cooking. Call 721-PARK. 

Finally, dance in the light of Luna during the Wed., June 18, Monthly Moonwalk—dubbed “Beetle Moon”—which begins at 7 PM at the Charles Waters campground in the Bitterroot. Get Julie on the horn at 375-2606.

Oh, and if anyone finds a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow this week, please pass on the info so I can share it with about 25,000 buddies of mine. Much obliged.

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