Mountain High 

Whenever a possible conflict of interest arises in the process of creating these pages, we at the Indy are quick to whip out a disclaimer like this one: Comrade Calendar, from 1999–2003, was both a volunteer and media coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC).

Now that we’ve cleared that hurdle, allow me to expound on the topic of temperature and West Yellowstone. The Intelligent Designer must have smooshed a thumb of grace down there in days of yore, for that high mountain region is typically one of the coldest spots in the Lower 48 each winter.

BFC volunteers awake each morning before dawn in order to locate themselves in key migration corridors as the day’s first light graces the Madison Valley, or the Gardiner area if they’re on Yellowstone Park’s northern boundary. This means they’re out during the coldest part of each day, which is a testament to their dedication. In their living areas, which run the gamut from canvas yurts and tipis to slightly more insulated log cabins and trailers, the heating source of choice remains the wood stove.

As many of you know, it can take quite a bit of wood to keep yourself warm through the winter, especially if you plan to remain alive through frequent evenings of -40 degree mercury plummets.

Hence, each fall at the BFC, people come from across the state to help secure warmth against the coming cold. Beginning on Thu., Aug. 28, BFC Wood Cut Week comprises a flurry of activity at the cabin on Hebgen Lake outside West Yellowstone. Get your chainsaw muscles back in shape, learn a thing or two about the state agencies that slaughtered more than 1,600 buffalo last winter, and meet some of the most tenacious defenders of wildlife this side of the Mississippi. Food and lodging are gratefully provided, so call 646-0070 or visit buffalofieldcampaign.org.

Of course, you’re free to disregard that call, especially if you’ve got boating on your mind. Those of you who want something new that goes splash need only head up to the Silver Moon Kayak Company, 1215 N. Somers Road in Kalispell, where the three-day End-of-Summer Insanity Sale takes place from Aug. 28–30. Kayaks, canoes and all the related accessories are yours for pennies on the dollar—perhaps I exaggerate—and you can get all the specs when you call 752-3794.

Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars as you take the Blue Mountain Observatory up on their offer to share an eyepiece with you and yours: On Fri., Aug. 29, at roughly 9:15 PM, the next Observing Night takes place at their Blue Mountain stronghold. The event’s notoriously fickle—clouds and/or smoke will put the kibosh on the whole thing—so be sure to call 243-5179 before you head for the hill. And snag directions at physics.umt.edu/bluemountain.

Complete the stargazing as early as possible, as a bevy of trip options open up before you the next morning. First off, Missoulians on Bicycles invites you on their annual Glacier Getaway on Sat., Aug. 30, a 135-mile trek into the “Jewel of Montana’s Parks.” Call Lech at 543-4889.

You can head in the same direction, but via a different manner of locomotion, should you instead choose to join the Rocky Mountaineers as they make a spirited attempt upon Glacier Park’s Mount Logan (9,239 feet) beginning on Sat., Aug. 30. The plan is to hike in Sat., do the class 3 climb on Sun., and hike out on Mon. You’re free to attend and not climb as well. Call Forest at 240-7612 or e-mail him at mtnear1@gmail.com.

A third trip offering comes down the pike as the Great Burn Study Group leads their final monitoring journey of the season on Sat., Aug. 30, this time to Idaho’s Bighorn/Weitas roadless area, where 250,000 acres of rural sprawl await your eager eyes, feet and ears. Call Beverly at 240-9901. 

The Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., has some water-borne adventures in store for you with their Saturday Discovery Day on Aug. 30, which begins at 8 AM with a canoeing refresher course before the main event, a floating learning session with naturalist Lee Metzgar. The whole enchilada runs $35, or $30 for members, and there’s a special family price, so call 327-0405 ASAP. 

While you’ve most certainly read the Spotlight to this effect, here’s another plug for the inaugural PEDal Festival, a Missoula-bred celebration of automotive independence that starts at noon in Caras Park on Sat., Aug, 30. Wear your freak costume for the bike parade, buy raffle tickets and get more info at bikewalkmissoula.org. 

Continue the celebration of your feet and their ability to carry you when you register for the Madison Marathon, which begins at 8 AM on Sun., Aug. 31, in the Clover Meadows Campground in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. This event offers full, half and team marathons, and carries the distinction of being the highest marathon in the Northwest, with average elevations of well over 8,500 feet. Your torture awaits at madcoedc.org.

And last, but definitely weirdest, Mon., Sept. 1, marks the final day of the Splash Montana waterpark season. Two events commemorate the day: An ice cream social at 1 PM, where you can enjoy Cold Stone treats as you bid a final teary-eyed goodbye to the chlorinated wonderland until next year, and the 6 PM Doggie Dive-In, which offers the chance to dunk Fido, and you don’t even have to dress him up in diapers or anything. Thanks, Parks & Rec!

Until next we meet, I bid you good night and good luck.
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