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Mountain High


In the world of xylem and phloem, it’s fair to say that things are pretty much blowing up. Buds are swelling and turning to their brilliant greens and reds in a display that verges on the obscene. I mean, I saw a mother cover her child’s eyes in embarrassment as the pair passed beneath a cottonwood tree by the river.

Okay, you’re right, I saw no such thing. But really, isn’t this springtime display of over-the-top sexual energy just a bit much? What’s a Comrade to do? I’ll tell you what a Comrade’s to do. He’s to revel in it. Every exuberant blossom, each sap-dripping catkin, down to the very last new larch needle, I’m going to gorge my senses on this regional display of the fecund. And where’s a Comrade to do so? Two words: Columbia Falls.

Yes, our dear neighbor to the north has been officially designated as one of 3,310 Tree City USA communities by the Arbor Day Foundation. To commemorate this historic victory for trees around the globe, join a representative from Governor Schweitzer’s office at 1 PM on Fri., April 24, in Columbia Falls’ Marantette Park for a ceremony to mark the event. Performances by local schoolchildren, as well as the attendance of area trees, will add to the festivities.

And with that day’s revelry behind you, I’d suggest a good night’s sleep, as Saturday begins early:

It’s the return of my favorite peak-baggers, the Rocky Mountaineers (TRM). On Sat., April 25, join the intrepid granite-grabbers for a sojourn up the Bitterroot’s Trapper Peak (over 10,000 feet!), for which the meeting time is a gnarly 6:15 AM. I told you they were extreme. Call 243-4790.

They say the Five Valleys Audubon Society never sleeps, and this week I’m inclined to believe it. You’re invited to join the insomniac aviophiles at 7 AM in the UM Adams Center parking lot on Sat., April 25, where Gary Swant leads a trip to the Warm Springs Ponds for some great waterfowl action. Bring binocs and a lunch, and call 327-1525.

This town may not be big enough for two Audubon chapters, but this region certainly is. The Flathead Audubon Society invites you to partake in the third annual Marty Cohen Stroll, which takes place along the Whitefish River bike path once everyone assembles at 8 AM at the Whitefish City ball fields on Sat., April 25. Again, binoculars bring the wildlife up close, so pack a set. And call 755-3704.

Rather than ogling birds, take this opportunity to improve yourself physically. On Sat., April 25, the YMCA Riverbank Run begins at the intersection of North Higgins Avenue and Broadway at 9 AM.  The details are numerous and accessing them involves your browser and the address

Another option for this fine Saturday is to head to the Sitting Duck in Woods Bay, where Raptor Day begins at 10 AM and features bird biologist Byron Crow offering programs for both adults and children. Jae Hatt sets to jamming at 1 PM, and you can get more info when you call 253-1514.

Bikes are the name of the game, as Bike Walk Bus Week begins on Sat., April 25, so what better way to celebrate than with a bike ride? Missoulians on Bicycles (MOB) asks that you meet at 10 AM at the Eastgate parking lot for the 22-mile Deer Creek Sneak, which is 75 percent dirt roads, so select the appropriate bike. And call Kathy at 543-6274.

The Montana Natural History Center (MNHC), 120 Hickory St., dominates the remainder of the day, with two exciting events. First, at 2 PM on Sat., April 25, is the Saturday Kids’ Activity Outrageous Owls, which considers all aspects of the creepy prowlers. $2/members free. Call 327-0405.

Then, at 9 PM, nature-lovers of all ages convene at the MNHC for the outdoor class Evening Star Gazing for Beginners, which features professionals from the Western Montana Astronomical Association. They’ll have telescopes and binoculars, but feel free to bring your own. RSVP 327-0405.

Sunday, April 26, begins with a shot of lactic acid, as those Rocky Mountaineers are at it again. They offer up the Bass Creek Day Loop Trail, a 7.5-mile hike that affords views of flowers, creeks and your fellow hikers. Call Steve at 721-4686.

Get your feet off the ground and back onto your pedals, as the MOB offers this alternative to trail-stumbling: At 10 AM on Sun., April 26, meet at the Eastgate parking lot for the 55-mile 25th annual Potomac Awful Burger Ride. This one’s a “show and go,” so just be there. And don’t forget your burger money.

Your opportunity to join the fight against invasive species—in a very focused manner, at least—comes at 6 PM on Tue., April 28, when a Native Plant Garden Party at Fort Missoula has you transplanting flowers, erecting signs and more. RSVP

Rather than helping out native plants, you might like this one: At 6 PM on Tue., April 28, the Montana Dirt Girls meet up at the Jumbo trailhead to the top of Lincoln Hills Drive for a spirited jaunt up the hillside. Visit

And if all that doesn’t exactly tickle your fancy, there’s always more killing that needs done. Prepare for the coming slaughter at 7 PM on Tue., April 28, when a Hunter Education Course for humans above the age of 11 begins in the Darby School cafeteria. Register at the beginning of class, and call 542-5500 with questions.

Now get out there and feel up some buds.

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