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Mountain High


As we wind our way through another week of frolicking, wandering and sweating in the woods, the Calendar Playa yet again has plenty of exertion on tap for those aiming to give back, those of us eager to explore and others who are just looking for a workout outside the confines of a gym. Still, there are other activities for those of us who aren't in the mood to perspire.

From weed pulling and intense mountain climbing, to relaxed activities like bird watching and star gazing, there's no excuse for complete inactivity this week, folks.

With that, let's glide into Friday with an activity perfect for those wanting to stay close to home that night and in need of an idea for a date with their mate: let me suggest a trek to UM's Blue Mountain Observatory, where you'll gander at nearby planets, stars and nebulae with your guy or gal courtesy of a powerful telescope. This free event is estimated to start at an observing time of 10 PM. But call 243-5179 beforehand to make sure gazing time isn't marred by unexpected weather, and visit for directions.

If you can't stand the thought of gluing your eyes toward the skies, Friday also presents a chance to help fight noxious weeds in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. If you've got vacation time to burn, you'll probably want to use it for this trip, which takes you to Big Salmon Lake for a full week of goat weed mapping and inventory on the shore of the lake. You'll spend your days on a raft, using GPS units to map, so bring your fishing rod for company. There's a $50 refundable deposit for this project, and you're asked to RSVP one week ahead of time, but if you hurry up and call 387-3808 they'll hopefully be able to reserve a spot for you. Visit

Hey, we all get busy sometimes, so if a week of conservation work doesn't fit your schedule, or you're just lazy, perhaps you can give up a few precious days to head off Friday on a Women's Intro to Backpacking Discovery Weekend, where Jessie Sherburne with the Montana Natural History Center leads an expedition to Lost Lake in the Great Burn wilderness area. Expect lots of mind expanding activities on this trip, which runs Aug.14–16, as you'll be taught how to set up a camp, use a cook stove, learn bear safety, identify native plants and animals, and much more. $55/$45 for members. Space is also limited so hurry and call 327-0405.

If you're not a backpacking freak and decide to drink yourself silly on Friday night, Saturday presents an opportune time to sweat the booze out of your system while giving back to the land when Wildlands CPR heads to the Clearwater National Forest for a day trip of invasive weed removal, tree planting and checking motion triggered cameras for signs of wildlife. Call Greg Peters at 543-9551 or e-mail for the skinny.

If promises of T-shirts and weed pulling aren't motivating you, perhaps a climbing jaunt in the Bitterroots called the Bitterroot Grand Traverse will when you join the Rocky Mountaineers for a 17-mile trip aimed at climbing El Capitan, The Lonesome Bachelor and the three Como peaks all in one day. This is a Class 4 trip, which means easy climbing but, be careful, a fall could cause injury. You should also plan to camp at the trailhead the night before to start scuttling at 3 AM for what's expected to be a long day of climbing, trail running and more. Before you decide to go, make sure you're in shape for the trip and have a harness and belay device, then call Forest Dean at 240-7612 or e-mail

I can understand if there's too much flab in that slab of stomach, and a climb might be too much on Saturday, but perhaps a shorebirding field trip with the Five Valleys Audubon Society will satiate those outdoor desires when they head to the Smurfit-Stone Container mill, of all places, at 8 AM for a half-day bird watching extravaganza. At the site, you'll train your eyes under the guidance of Larry Weeks to look for stilt and western sandpipers, red-necked phalaropes, willets and yellowlegs, among an assortment of other wading bird herds. Free. Plan to meet at UM's Adams Fieldhouse at 8 AM, or at the main gate of the pulp mill at 8:30 AM. Call Larry Weeks at 549-5632.

Once you've gotten your bird watching urges met, rest up and inculcate your child with similar bouts of excitement for fowl during Parks and Rec's Youth Explorer Camp, where kids aged 7–11 get to wander through the McCormick Park and Tower Street conservation area and participate in scavenger hunts, bird watching expeditions, hikes, fish and minnow collections and more, with help from folks at the Audubon Society, from 9 AM–12 PM through Aug. 21. $90/week camp. Call Parks and Rec at 721-PARK.

But if you've got no dumpling in tow, and you like doing meaningful work before you head off for some adult suds, another chance to give back occurs during Watershed Wednesday's, where learning about plants and wildlife native to the Rattlesnake's Bugbee Nature Area is all the rage, as is lending a hand with restoration activities at the creek, from 6–8:30 PM every Wed. Call Andrew at 531-2527 or e-mail

And, with that, dear reader, I bid you adieu for the week. Keep playing in the sun while you still can, dodge those occasional bouts of rain we've been having, and please keep me in the know of any outdoors events coming down the pipeline by 5 PM, Fri., Aug. 14.

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