Mountain High 

With less and less water falling from the sky, there’s more and more reason for you to get out on it this weekend. If you’re thinking the same thing, you’re in the right place.

That’s because I’ve got three ways for you to get on the water this weekend, all wrapped up in the Blackfoot Challenge, a paddle happening on the big river flowing down from Mineral Hill and emptying into the Clark Fork. The annual event, sponsored by the Canoe Rack, takes place Saturday, June 24, and Sunday, June 25, on the Blackfoot River up in the vicinity of Johnsrud, located about 11 miles east of Missoula on Highway 200.

You probably already knew that if you’ve got enough gusto to take on the Boater Cross or slalom race, which will require enough expertise to navigate the Sheep Flats rapid upstream and down. But the 11-mile downriver race from Johnsrud to the Weigh Station fishing access is open to anyone who wants in, so get the boat strapped on your ride, haul out the Gazetteer and head to the river. You might want to visit canoerack.com for all the information I didn’t just dispense, a considerable swath of knowledge worth having.

When you’re done challenging the Blackfoot, see if you can beat the water you were playing in back to town for the Sunday, June 25, dedication of Brennan’s Wave and an ensuing celebration of the diverting diversion that’s been capturing the attention of people passing over the Higgins Avenue bridge for months. The lengthy party, which promises music and beer as well as a little speechifying, kicks off at 1 PM and keeps it up until 8 PM, all in Caras Park. Don’t call anyone; just show up.

Even the Sierra Club wants to get into aquatic action, so they’ve got something planned for Saturday, June 24, that’s sort of vaguely framed right now but has to do with floating the Blackfoot or Clark Fork rivers. Also on the agenda is taking a gander at the depleting reservoir behind Milltown Dam, so if that or just a lazy day on the river with some other people who like the idea sounds appealing, call 543-6696 to join in.

Should you go, those Sierra Club folks are likely to try to recruit you for a hike on Carlton Ridge the following day, Sunday, June 25. During the excursion, you and your fellow hikers will be checking out the rare larch hybrids on the ridge—but only after some bushwhacking and cross-country hiking to get you there. Join in by calling 549-1142 and getting the right travel information.

In addition to the Sierrans, other stalwarts are planning hikes for this weekend. The New Rocky Moun-taineers head up Lolo Peak as well, but they’re going on Saturday, June 24, and they’re planning to aim for the summit, which means there will be some skiing and snowshoeing because there’s still plenty of potential river water up there. The Rocky Mountaineers, on the other hand, head for a peak that appears clear of snow when they aim to climb Western Montana’s renamed mountain, Cha-paa-qn, on a Saturday, June 24, hike that’s relatively easy with a bit of scrambling at the end. To get in on the climb, call 327-0566.

If just getting out is insufficient reason to go, you can join the Wilderness Institute for an overnight dinner-and-transportation-provided hike with an ulterior motive when they pack in to the Refrigerator Canyon of the Gates of the Mountains Wilderness from Friday, June 23, to Sunday, June 25. In exchange for getting you there and keeping you from just eating whatever potentially poisonous berries you can scrounge up, they’ll be expecting you to do some sort of monitoring of recreational impacts on wilderness. If that seems like a small price to pay, call 243-5361.

Should your reason for tagging along with the Wilderness Institute be a raging fear of getting lost in unknown lands, you could probably learn some useful orienteering skills during the GPS 201 field class sponsored by REI that’s happening at 10 AM on Saturday, June 24, at the Blue Mountain Recreation Area. You’ll have to call 829-0432 to find out, a move that’s also smart since there is a registration fee and a requirement that you promise to pay it ahead of time.

Well, that’s about the length and breadth—not to say depth—of what I’ve got to say about outdoor recreation this week. I’m due for a little bit myself and so hopefully I’ll be able to report back with some tall tales of adventures in the wilds.

Feel free to send yours along too. I’ll be checking my e-mail sooner or later.

calendar@missoulanews.com

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