Mountain High 

Back in 1970, the founders of Earth Day probably had no idea what a boon they would be providing an outdoor activity columnist in Missoula in the year 2007. I mean, there is so much earth-worship-related programming available to lucky Western Montanans this week, it almost behooves us to take some time just to sit quietly in our homes and watch television.

Just kidding, but only about the TV part.

Yes, there are plenty of things to do this week that both honor the Earth and our own physical abilities to enjoy ourselves upon it. But I think that oft-uttered and seldom-realized catch phrase, “Make every day Earth Day” deserves a moment’s attention. What does that really mean?

Is it enough to just replace your light bulbs and call it good? Will turning my fridge down a bit keep New York City from submarining?

The answer, of course, is up to you, and to all of us. A day spent focusing on garbage pick-ups or stream cleaning is a good start, but damn, we have a long way to go. It’s about lifestyle change and sacrifice, which isn’t quite as popular as a one-day festival, but so much more important.

While you ruminate upon ways in which you can “be like Al,” here are some ways to enjoy the planet this week:

Those of you who’ve come to understand that you’re treading a bit heavily on the Earth should consider attending the second class in REI’s “Light Backpacking” series, which provides an overview of sleeping systems and shelters. You’ll want to get to the store, at 2230 N. Reserve St., by 7 PM on Thu., April 19, for the clinic and the store coupon that is yours at the end. Call 829-0432.

Some people say kids are natural stewards of the globe, yet with our contemporary propensity for parking the wee beasties in front of cathode ray devices, some of our young-uns may not exactly emulate Captain Planet. Help them out on Sat., April 21, when you head to Currents Aquatics Center for Missoula Parks and Recreation’s Sizzlin’ Summer Sign-ups, starting at 8 AM. Get your kids registered for upcoming Parks and Rec. and Missoula Natural History Center summer programs, receive a 50 percent discount on your Resident Discount Card and enjoy watching your kids enjoy the refreshments and games. Call 552-6254.

Saturday’s our day to enjoy this chunk of granite, it would seem, as everyone’s got something going on. Missoulians on Bicycles, for example, will leave from Ravalli for an incredible two-day journey to the Symes Hotel in Hot Springs. The 41-mile ride—each way, that is—will take you past Oreo cows and a place where Comrade Calendar once found a full box of Krispy Kremes on the shoulder—delicious! Give Diane a call at 728-4126 if you feel like riding and soaking.

Another Sat., April 21, expedition is offered by the Rocky Mountaineers, who will join up with the Glacier Mountaineering Society to attack Columbia Mountain in the Swan Range. The 10-mile trail walk is meant for well-conditioned hikers, and dogs are welcome. E-mail Jim at jhckal@yahoo.com.

Yet another option on Sat., April 21, is the Amble to Alberton, another offering from Missoulians on Bicycles, which leaves at 9 AM from Adventure Cycling, 150 E. Pine St. The 65-mile trek requires that you bring a snack, and perhaps out of courtesy you should call Chuck at 728-8657.

Finally, yet somehow also on Sat., April 21, you’ve got the option to join those Rocky Mountaineers for an Introduction to TerraCaching on Mount Sentinel. With the explosion in availability of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, a new sport has arisen, in which people place hidden caches of whatever around the globe, and it’s your job to find them. Meet at the base of the M trail at 10 AM to enter this brave new world. Or e-mail Jon at jon@terracaching.com.

If you’re still looking for something to do on Sun., April 22, feel free to attempt another bike ride, this one titled “The Deer Creek Sneak,” with those same amped-up Missoulians on Bicycles. You’ll meet at the Eastgate parking lot at 10 AM for the 25-mile ride, which includes some gravelly, off-road riding, so come prepared. And call Kathy at 543-6274.

Lastly, here’s the obligatory Earth Day Celebration entry: Caras Park is the place for you and your fellow earthlings to gather for some good old-fashioned paganism. Actually, the event kicks off at noon and features some pretty high-tech dirt-worshipping, if I may say so. A solar-powered stage—pray for sun—will have the whole bowl shakin’, while a “green car show” will highlight transportation options that are probably cost-prohibitive, yet appeal to our aesthetic nonetheless. The gathering’s feature that has me most excited, however, is the glass crusher. A group from Helena is bringing their mobile glass pulverizer to make cullet, which is the fancy name for “crushed glass.” I’ve played with some of the stuff, and while you’d probably want to avoid making toddler toys with it, cullet is quite an interesting resource.

So, until next week, spend some time coming up with a million-dollar idea for the use of cullet and send it to me, along with your outdoor events listings.
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