Never underestimate the importance of alone time. That's what I was thinking while attending this year's installment of the River City Roots Festival. Not that the event wasn't great, it was. It's just that packing thousands of people into a few city blocks can be, well, kind of claustrophobic.
So as you head off into the outdoors this week, be thankful that alone time with nature means just that: you, Gaia, and perhaps a handful of your friends.
On that note, put another notch in your belt for stewardship purposes when you start off the week with two conservation-minded trips.
The first is one of the last trips you'll get to take with leaders of the Great Burn Study Group when they, along with the National Forest Foundation, lead you up to Bighorn Weitas from Sept. 4–6 where you'll monitor weeds, wildlife, trail conditions, signs and other info critical to managing this area. If you've got karma points to score with Mother Nature, call Beverly Dupree at 240-9901 or e-mail email@example.com to register.
Those of you more inclined to get your hands and fingernails dirty might forgo that trip and opt for a stroll to Meadow Lake in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, where you'll join the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation for four days of weed eradication from Sept. 4–8 in the Scapegoat Wilderness area. Rest assured, a crew leader will help you with weed identification, as well as herbicide application (spray away from your eyes. Did I need to tell you that?). You're also supposed to sign up for this a week in advance, but hurry up and call 387-3808 or visit www.bmwf.org. Also, there's a $50 refundable deposit for this multi-day project.
If you're lazy and would rather take a walk under the light of the moon on Friday, well, you can do that too during the Sun Ranch Institute and Bitterroot National Forest's Walk by the Light of the Moon presentation, at 7 PM at Schroeder Ranch in the northern Bitterroot Valley, nestled next to the Bitterroot River. Once you're at the free event, you'll dash around with members of the U.S. Forest Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and sop up knowledge they spout about the importance of the river to the fish, wildlife and plants in the region. Directions are detailed, and I only have so much space, so be sure to call Julie Schreck at 375-2606 and hopefully she can e-mail you the skinny.
On Saturday, you'll have yet another chance to walk around casually, this time gazing at birds, when you join the Five Valleys Audubon Society for an 8 AM jaunt to go exploring for warblers and songbirds at prime open space near Tower Street, as well as Sleven's Island by Fort Missoula. Make sure to pour that cup o' morning joe into a travel mug and plan to be at the Tower Street parking lot by 8 AM, where trip leader Larry Weeks will guide you toward avian observation heaven. Free. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perhaps you'd rather spend Saturday breaking a sweat and burning off the calories from all those beers you chugged on Friday night. Well then, you should check out the MTCC Garden City Triathlon, which starts at 9 AM at the Frenchtown Pond State Park, located off of Frenchtown's Frontage Road. Once officials pull the trigger, you'll jump into a 1.5-kilometer swim, pedal your way through a 40-kilometer bike race and push your endorphin levels to the limit during a 10-kilometer run. The event costs $65/individuals, $130/relay teams, and benefits the Montana Campus Compact. Head over to www.mtcompact.org/GCT.htm for the full low down.
Speaking of bike riding, here's another event on Saturday worth scoping for pedal pushers looking for a way to bulge their leg veins: the 35th Annual Glacier Getaway, a three-day ride through the park, sponsored by Missoulians on Bicycles. I'm not sure if there's any cost involved, besides transportation and lodging, but contact Lech Szumera at 543-4889 to register. Also, those of you interested in joining the group should plan to attend their first fall meeting at a TBA time and location on Sept. 8. Click over to www.missoulabike.org for details.
Those less interested in pushing around a metal framed contraption can get your exertion on, with your wrist and a metal rod, that is, when you sign up for the UM Campus Recreation Department's Fly Fishing Class by Sept. 8. The class runs Sept. 10, 17, 24, and Oct. 1 in Jeannette Rankin Hall 202, from 6–8 PM and on Sept. 26 and Oct. 3 on the water. George Kesel, owner of Four Rivers Fly Shop, aims to lure you into a fly fishing king under his expert instruction during this $52 course. Call 243-5172.
More handheld fun awaits you as I take this moment to remind all you dudes and dudettes out there who like guns, or have contemplated the merits of shooting guns at animals, to sign up for hunter education courses on Sept 9, in Missoula at the local office of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 3201 Spurgin Road, or in Clinton at Clinton School, 20397 E. Mullan Road, from 7–8:30 PM at both locations. Classes start Sept. 14 and are free. Call 542-5500 or visit www.fwp.mt.gov.
And before I send you off, here's a stewardship project for those water-inclined peeps that like to give more than receive during the Watershed Education Network's series of volunteer water monitoring training sessions, which occur Wed., Sept. 9 from 4–6:30 PM and Thu., Sept. 10 at the same time, at the Greenough Park Pavillion. Be prepared to get your learning antennae tuned to the ways of measuring water quality, and more. Call 541-WATR or e-mail email@example.com.
With that, I'm off, probably somewhere where there's not thousands of people densely packed like sardines. As always, keep sending me tips on outdoor trips, weed pulls, hiking excursions and whatnot.