Mountain High 

Even over a recent rainy weekend the trails in Pattee Canyon were heavily populated. Give a good Missoulian some tree cover and a reliable outer shell and we’ll brush away below-average temperatures or a relentlessly steady rain like they’re mere annoyances. Babies in backpacks? They were there. Dogs slushing through puddles? Check. It may as well have been a pristinely sunny afternoon on the Crazy Canyon Road as drenched hikers greeted fellow dedicated trekkers; it was, overall, a display of the like-minded camaraderie that makes this column a joy, you know?

So onto this week’s feel-good—and hopefully drier—happenings:

A word of caution starts us off. While it may be easy to get away with a rainy-day hike close to home, you may not want to risk it when the weather turns hairier or when the trailhead’s a little more remote. That’s when REI’s free public clinic, “How to Read the Weather: Severe Weather and Safety,” comes in handy. Learn how to protect yourself from your own overeager self—and Mother Nature—by getting to 2230 N. Reserve St. on Thursday, June 14, at 7 p.m.

That sounds like the sort of class you may want to take if you were planning to climb Warren Peak by yourself. Luckily, it’s not an issue because the New Rocky Mountaineers are pecking away at Warren Peak in the Anaconda-Pintler wilderness Saturday, June 16. The first portion of the route follows a trail for five miles, then morphs into a 1,000-foot climb up a snow couloir—and you’ll need an ice ax for that. In total, you’ll climb 3,000 feet of the 10,463-foot peak. Call Gerald at 549-4769 for more info and a start time.

The Spring Wildflower Hike to Packer Meadow should be considerably more chill, but here’s hoping for favorable weather conditions, since rain calls the whole thing off. On Saturday, June 16, the Sierra Club and horticulturist Adrienne Hopkins will host a “moderately strenuous” eight-mile hike in an effort to scope out the purple camas in bloom at Lolo Pass. Ah, purple camas in bloom reminds me of my youth basking in the…oh, never mind. Just meet in the northwest section of the K-Mart parking lot at 9 a.m. to carpool and prepare to bask your own purple camas-decorated memories.

If you’re looking to learn about plants and flowers, but would prefer to do your learning from the seat of your pants rather than walking eight miles, consider the latest Native Plant Workshop on Saturday, June 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. Helen Atthowe of Missoula County Extension Service and Native Plant Nursery leads the discussion of how to design native and waterwise gardens and landscapes at the MUD native plant garden.
Even better, you can help preserve native wildlands by joining the Great Burn Study Group from Friday, June 15, to Sunday, June 17, when you can join experienced leaders in the Great Burn’s roadless backcountry as they monitor weeds, wildlife, trail conditions and signs. If you’re interested in volunteering this weekend—or, perhaps, for one of the eight other two-to-four-day trips later this summer—contact Beverly at 240-9901 or at thegreatburn@yahoo.com.

The Prairie Keepers are also helping to keep Montana’s wilds healthy. On Thursday, June 14, Morgan Valliant will host a guided tour of Mount Jumbo’s native plants and noxious weeds along the saddle trail. Meet at the Lincoln Hills trailhead at 7 p.m. to get started. Then, on Tuesday, June 19, Woad Warrior Part 3 meets at 6:30 p.m. to pull dyer’s woad from the slopes of Mount Sentinel. The walk is sponsored by the Clark Fork Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society.

If planning for the future through preservation ain’t your thing, there’s a different opportunity to learn a bit more about your past. The Clark Fork Watershed Education Program is hosting a two-day journey “through the history and science of southwestern Montana” beginning Tuesday, June 19. Start with a tour of an active copper mine in Butte, continue along Silver Bow Creek to the smelter city of Anaconda, then board a custom charter bus down the Clark Fork River, the longest Superfund site in the United States, to Missoula. The tour turns upriver the next day, making a stop at Milltown Dam. It’s not exactly a cruise to Aruba, but no matter. Experts will speak at all the pertinent locales, and all travel, accommodations and meals are included for $195. For more information, contact Rayelynn at 490-5191.

All of these activities would be best served with a little help from nicer-than-what-we’ve-been-getting weather, but there is one activity this week where wetness doesn’t matter: Wednesday, June 20, at 6 PM there’s an introduction to recreational kayaking on the Clark Fork River. Call the Canoe Rack at 251-0040 for more information, but rest assured that boat and gear are included in the $45 fee.
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