Mountain High 

Growing up, I heard a lot about differential rates of development among my peer group. Girls developed earlier than boys, and then there were the unlucky boys who were still awaiting the arrival of facial hair as we walked across the stage at the end of high school.

There is a recreationally relevant point here, and it has to do with being a late bloomer, or rather with the joys of being the early bird. In terms of competition, it’s obviously advantageous to be the first one out of the gate. While there are examples of horses, runners and politicos who burst on the scene early and lose steam before the finish line, the chances are good that an impressive beginning will lead to a strong win, or at least record profits.

In the regional race to draw the goggled crowd, we have a clear winner in the quick-start category: Lookout Pass ski area, on I-90 at the Idaho/Montana state line, opens for business Thu., Nov. 16. With 25 inches of new snow as of Monday and more falling as I type, normal Thu.-Mon. operations will commence a full week before other area hills are scheduled to open. And as if being first weren’t enough, Lookout Pass is offering reduced-price lift tickets as well as new trails and dining opportunities this season. Hell, you can even ski for free on your birthday with the proper government-issued ID. So let the snow games begin, and let’s hope the other hills in the area can make up for a week’s lag in liftoff.

Turning away from the powder, consider our city’s vibrant bicycle culture, manifest in vocal cyclists at City Council meetings and the sporadic and challenging Critical Mass rides. Some bicyclists are year-round riders out of either necessity or some form of pride. Others of us give our bikes a break when the weather turns to slush and snirt—that mixture that lines the streets during winter months—opting instead to pursue less dangerous modes of transportation. For those of you looking to extend the biking season just a wee bit longer, this week there are two evening mountain bike rides on the slate. The Starry Night Rides series continues with the stipulation that snow on the ground may postpone an evening’s planned ride. On Thu., Nov. 16, meet with the rest of the hardcore at the Rattlesnake Recreation Area parking lot for the Turkey Run, a one-and-a-half-hour ride. And on Thu., Nov. 23, the posse forms at the corner of Maurice Street and South Avenue for another hour-and-a-half ride up Mount Sentinel. As if you need to be told, you’ll want ear warmers, gloves, booties and a lighting system. Get more ride info by visiting www.williammartin.com/starrynightrides.

The coming rain and snow set the stage for gravity and water to do their erosive dance wherever bare ground is exposed. When a trail or hillside is sufficiently eroded, and there are people around who care to do something about it, a new trail is designated to bear the burden of footfall and the injured area is given a rest. Such is the case when the Rocky Mountaineers hike rerouted trails on Blue Mountain on Sat., Nov 18, in lieu of the steep routes whose faces are melting like an experimenting kid at a Phish show. The five-to-six mile hike will include roughly 2,000 feet of elevation gain, and will skirt an area that is open to hunting, so bring your blaze orange. If you’re interested in going along, call Steve Schombel at 721-4686.

The outdoor adventurer with a penchant for the paranormal has an opportunity to satisfy both cravings this winter. Two cabins in Garnet Ghost Town are available for nightly rental, and while there is no guarantee of haints or specters, some of the town’s deceased residents are bound to be lingering among the old saloons and mines. The cabins are equipped with beds, dishes, a propane cook stove and a wood stove for heat. Guests can either ski, snowmobile or snowshoe to the cabins, and need bring only sleeping bags and food. And protection from the undead. Call 329-3914 for more specifics, or to reserve a cabin.

And as we gear up for a holiday to celebrate our fortune and bestow our grace upon those in need, let’s not forget our friends over at Mountain High. Send word of your outdoor events to:

calendar@missoulanews.com

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