Mountain High 

As humans, we often see ourselves as somehow removed from the natural order. When we sequester ourselves in automobiles, lock away our senses between a pair of earbuds or deny the brutal power of the summer season with ceaseless puffs of liquid Freon, we attempt to sever ties to a few very basic truths.

Not that we shouldn’t try, of course. I mean, cars get us places faster and with fewer visible sweat stains, iPods have revolutionized the sharing of a global campfire and air conditioning keeps lots of elderly people alive, so I’m not saying it’s time to give all that up. What I’m getting at is this—it’s important to continue to recognize that the universe has set things up in certain ways for our own protection.

With that in mind, and considering that autumn is now firmly upon us, I’d turn your attention to the lovely gourds we’re so fond of buying, hacking up and eating at this time of year. There’s a reason behind every apparent coincidence, so peel back the technological dream curtain and understand that the intelligent designer made pumpkins orange to remind us that it’s hunting season again.

Yes, folks, the general season for taking deer and elk with a high-powered rifle begins on Sun., Oct. 26, and continues for 36 days. In that time, blaze orange apparel is your best protection against being mistaken for a creature worth blasting. The terror in the woods wraps up on Sun., Nov. 30, so in the meantime, keep your eyes peeled and your clothing bright.

Stay inside, where it’s still socially unacceptable to fire a rifle, as the Teton Gravity Research film Under The Influence screens at 7 PM on Thu., Oct. 23, in UM’s Urey Lecture Hall. From Alaska to Switzerland, Romania to British Columbia, the film team captured top riders exploiting a legendary year’s snowfall, and it’s all yours for the low, low price of $10, or $8 in advance. Call 243-5172.

I’m giving you the day off on Friday—well, outdoors-wise, that is—so you can devote your full mentality and musculature to a very special project at 9:30 AM on Sat., Oct. 25. You see, the good trailblazers of the Montana Conservation Corps have 3,000 feet of single track to pound out in the Woods Gulch area before the snow flies, and they need your help to do it. Meet at 9:30 AM at the trailhead with boots and gloves in position, ready to take up the tools they’ll have available and to eat the meal they’re offering afterward. And please RSVP to Bobby at 728-2720 or bgrillo@mtcorps.org.

Or, enjoy the sights, smells and sounds of fall in a more familial environment as Missoula Parks & Rec offers the Fall Family Fest in McCormick Park from 1–4 PM on Sat., Oct. 25. For a measly buck per human, you and yours can partake of hay rides, s’mores eating, game playing, pumpkin ogling, cider chugging and innumerable other treats o’ the season. Call 721-PARK.

The nearby Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., has an alternative to the fall-themed frivolity: Creep out the kids with their Saturday Kids’ Activity Bats! Bats! Bats! at 2 PM on Sat., Oct. 25, where your wee ones will learn about the flying mammals, learn to echolocate, make bat masks and eat a snack. The price is accommodatingly low: Kids get in for just 50 cents, adults part with a buck and members pay nothing. Call 327-0405.

To repeat, General rifle season begins Sun., Oct. 26. Hunters, see the elk in the picture. Notice how it bears no resemblance to a cow, a dog, a human or a VW bus, no matter how much Natty Light you might consume. Food for thought, and for safety.

Carrying on with the day’s end-of-life theme, the Missoula Cemetery, located north of the railroad tracks and west of North Russell Street, offers their seventh annual Stories and Stones Historical Tour program beginning at 12:30 PM on Sun., Oct. 26. Learn which Missoula sheriff lost his job for making moonshine, who rests eternally beneath the only iron headstone in all of Western Montana and, of course, say hello to our fair city’s favorite madam of yore, Ms. Mary Gleim. Call 552-6070. 

While crawling around and avoiding standing in front of windows is advisable this hunting season, when Nov. 8 sees runners rambling down the Kim Williams trail, you’ll only have yourself to blame if you miss the Mon., Oct. 27. deadline to register for the Turkey Trot, an annual and universally-appealing community jog. Early registration runs $15, with a $3 late fee tacked on for the sluggish, so sign up now and score a commemorative t-shirt. Call 243-2804.  

Finally, as the world turns and the seasons shift, light gets harder to come by and the Dirt Girls shift activities. Meet up with those wild ladies of the trail as they kick off winter hiking season at the Lincoln Hills trailhead at 5:45 PM on Tue., Oct. 28. From there, it’s up Mount Jumbo they go. Visit montanadirtgirls.com.

And in closing, I’d remind all hunters that elk backstrap is completely inedible and can be safely disposed of by e-mailing it to me directly.
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