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Mountain High

I’ve been outside in the early morning often enough to know that there’s truth to that standard old-timey bluegrass line, “The darkest hour is right before the dawn.” On the other hand, my tender little typing fingers felt like a packet of fish sticks on the way to work this morning, and they’re beginning to demand some answers.

Montana doesn’t really hit spring until May or so, but I think there’s action we can take to help this “Mother Nature” guy move along a bit more briskly. Besides driving, I mean.

You’ll recall the flying allegations of “waffling” that haunted one candidate in particular during the 2004 election. In my opinion, the current waffling on the part of the weather administration has gotten completely out of hand. I mean, pleasant biking nights flipping into digit-killing mornings and then flopping again into gorgeously warm afternoons? It’s time to put a stop to this back-and-forth, and as we’re again in an election cycle, I say we show the weather who’s really in charge.

Here’s the plan: Swarm your local second-hand store—no thanks necessary, Bargain Corner—and buy up all the waffle irons you can find. We’ll meet en masse outside the Missoula County Courthouse to pile up and conflagrate our collection of cookware, as a message to those currently in office that come June 3, there just may be a new sheriff in town.

And speaking of great public outpourings of sentiment, I apologize profusely for last week’s incorrect labeling of Mon., March 24, as Milltown Dam Breach Day. My bad. At approximately 11:30 AM on Fri., March 28, for the first time in over a century, the Blackfoot and Clark Fork rivers will flow freely on their westward journey. The public is invited to watch this historic event from the bluff overlook on the south side of the dam site. You can get there by taking Deer Creek Road through the Canyon River Golf Club and continuing across the river and up the hill after the shooting range. You can also call 457-5040 for more info.

And what better way to welcome spring than to fill your lungs and arteries with fresh oxygen? To do so in the service of children only heightens your standing, so you’ll want to head to Arlee High School at 10 AM on Sat., March 29, for the 2008 Buttercup Scholarship Run. The event features one, five and 10K events and supports the college scholarship efforts of the Friends of Arlee Schools, a nonprofit group that provides supplemental support to area school kids. Call 726-3335 or visit

I extend a warm welcome back to the Rocky Mountaineers, who have a slew of trips organized for the next few weeks. The first comes when they pack up all the requisite gear—skis/snowshoes, crampons, ice axe, transceiver, shovel, bivy gear and tribal permit—for an overnight trip to the Mission Mountains’ McDonald Peak starting on Sat., March 29. For info that goes beyond simply where to meet—7 AM at Muralt’s—call Joshua at 543-0898. 

Our footing at this intersection of seasons is acknowledged all over the region this week, beginning with the two-day Lookout Pass Slush Cup, which begins on Sat., March 29. At its heart, this is a pond-skimming event, wherein competitors gain great speed on the hill and see how far they can shoot out into a body of water. I can think of several obvious and important logistical questions, which should prompt you to call (208) 744-1301.

At the same time, maybe you feel like denying winter’s inevitable decline with just one more hardcore competition. Whitefish Mountain Resort hosts their two-day Corn Cup—named for the great-for-gliding snow variety popular in the terrain park—with contests beginning around 10:30 AM on Sat., March 29. The first day features the Fishbowl Slopestyle contest, while the second day’s events take place in the Montana Superpipe. Call 862-2900.

Spring’s clear pavement inspires the Missoulians on Bicycles (MOB) to lead two rides this weekend, the first of which is the Clinton Ramble on Sat., March 29, a 40-miler that leaves from the Eastgate parking lot at 10 AM. Call Jim at 721-2112. 

The next MOB offering comes roughly 24 hours later, when a ride known as “Glen’s Café for Famous Pie” leaves 4-B’s Restaurant at 10 AM on Sun., March 30. The bike trail provides a safe ride between Lolo and Florence, and be sure to bring some dough for pie. Call Lynn at 251-5786.

Also on Sun., March 30, Montana Snowbowl presents the North Dakota Downhill, a slide and glide event to see just how much speed and distance you can coax out of your boards. It seems the proper wax selection is critical here, so be sure to bring the variety pack. Call 549-9777.

And finally, the Montana Dirt Girls plan to hike Mount Sentinel on April Fool’s Day, Tue., April 1. The hearty hikers meet at 5:45 PM at the corner of Maurice and South avenues, so perhaps you can come up with a good practical joke for the waiting horde.

Oh, and if you can’t bring your waffle iron to the Courthouse, just drop it off here at the Indy office, where Lorie will gladly take possession.

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