Mountain High 

Cabin fever tends to set in this time of year. Maybe it has something to do with that infernal rodent in Punxsutawney. The thought that a whimsical groundhog has the power to end winter’s grasp, or not, tends to make people start shooting up their freezers.

Some folks hate the cold weather, others miss summer’s late twilight, perfect for backyard beer-drinking and barbecues. Mostly, though, it’s the lack of mobility that drives even the most composed insane. Booted feet cry to spoon with sandals, high-country passes beckon dusty backpacks, and secret river beaches tempt bathers to shed winter’s wool.

The Missoula Road & Track Club is a crew that likes to stay mobile. Runners know that yearning for summer’s competition and are ready to taste of it even while winter outstays its welcome. So put some spikes on those shoes and show off your winter lungs during the Frost Fever 5K run on Sat., Feb. 7. The race starts at 10 a.m. in Playfair Park with a $15 registration at 9 a.m. If you register early at the Missoula Parks and Recreation office, the cost is $12. And you get a free T-shirt to forever advertise just how hard a core you have.

Speaking of which, hardcore dating is going to be a little easier in Whitefish this weekend. It’s long been known that a goddess of love roams the snow ghosts atop Big Mountain at sundown. Many couples have made the arduous climb, complete with burning quads and sweaty Capilene, to bask in the goodness of this goddess. Gazing from the shine of your partner’s eyes to the man-made glimmer that spreads further across the Flathead Valley each year incites a virility unexplainable except as the work of the goddess, or maybe that ecstasy those hippie telemarkers slipped you on the way up. Turning away from the valley and looking east affords a view of Glacier’s most imposing peaks basked in moonlight, and one realizes the goddess would live nowhere else.

The point is, you don’t have to be a steel-thighed member of the counterculture to partake in the views, and—if you’re lucky—the love. Moonlight Dine and Ski is back for two days on Feb. 6 and 7 at the Summit House 7,000’ feet up Big Mountain. The meal will feature Mexican food and costs $30 for adults and $25 for kids. Included in the price is a chair lift ride up the mountain, the meal and a guided ski down the hill. Slidophobes will have the option of riding the chair down unless they want to cut their teeth on Toni Matt by the light of the moon. Reservations are required. The first dinner seating is at 6 p.m. For more information call 862-2900.

Ahem, it’s no coincidence that this next tidbit wound up mid-way through the column. The more ski bums scrambling to get their mitts on the Montana Ski Pass for Life now up for grabs, the worse my own chances of hitting the road, snowboard in tow. Okay, here’s the deal: In hopes of promoting in-state recreational use, Montana residents can register to win a Montana Ski Pass for Life, valued at $30,000, at any MacKenzie River Pizza restaurant or at the Travel Montana website, Other prizes include one-time visits to resorts, complete with an airplane ride via Big Sky Airlines to the destination. The contest ends Feb. 29. The big winner will be announced during the first week of March.

Grab your climbing skins and a shovel. The New Rocky Mountaineers are trekking up to 6,900’ Mollman Pass in the Mission Mountains just south of Ronan on Feb. 7. Geared toward skiing and snowshoeing, the route to the pass will follow a snow-covered trail that gains 3,100’ of elevation. Upon arrival at the long, broad pass, enthusiasts can check out the Mollman Lakes, traverse the mountains above the pass, or simply gaze at the nearby peaks and valley below. For more information call Gerald Olbu at 549-4769.

Now let’s look toward spring, when rivers lose their frigid skin and begin to flow big and dirty. To learn how to move a raft on a swollen river (or to learn what a swollen river can do to your raft), take the Whitewater Workshop on the Main Salmon—the treat you’ve waited for all winter. The four-day working trip focuses on educating boaters in all aspects of running a multi-day river trip. Topics will include oar-boat and paddle-boat navigation, hydrology, boat rigging, dealing with flips and wraps, rope systems, knot tying, setting up a Z-drag, and cooking and food packing. Sponsored by Campus Recreation and Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures, the trip costs $440 per person ($550 for UM credit). Two trips are available, the first runs April 14–18, the second takes place April 21–25. Learn how to take your friends rafting, and if you catch the eye of the staff, maybe land a summer job. For more information call 728-7609.

And a look toward the dog days of summer finds a scheduled Aug. 14–21 Sierra Club backpack trip in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. There are no large snakes in the area; rather, the wilderness is named for the company that once controlled Montana’s economy. Don’t let that diminish the grandeur of this wilderness forgotten by readers of backcountry magazines. The route will include four days on the Continental Divide Trail. Start saving your money—the cost is $695. For more information contact Bob Jordan at

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