Mountain High 

This past weekend, your Comrade Calendar twice came within a chin whisker’s breadth of our culture’s bony-robed boogeyman, the Grim Reaper.

Well, to be honest, that emissary from the netherworld wasn’t coming for me, but for my friends. In any case, the message is the same: You never know when Death’s hand will come rapping for you or your loved ones.


On Sun., Sept. 7, I stood in the Orange Street Food Farm parking lot as a friend headed home, dinging her bell as she cruised toward a green light. I watched in horror as a pickup truck ran the perpendicular red light and very nearly creamed her all over the intersection. Being quite a skilled cyclist, she was able to stop her fixed-gear bike quickly, thus avoiding a date with Satan’s radiator. As she sped off to confront the perp—she wound up catching and severely tongue-lashing him—I gave silent thanks for that back-up hand brake of hers.

Then, just a few hours later, I stood in my kitchen as a visiting traveler got that red-faced, moist-eyed visage of the Choking Victim. Indeed, the deer had done an admirable job of wedging itself in his trachea, no doubt aided by the jovial and imbibatory nature of our visit. In a flash, I was upon him, administering the Heimlich as I’d learned in countless First Aid classes. The nibbled gristle nugget landed with a wet slap on the floor. We’d cheated Hades yet again.

I raise this odd coincidence in this column that you might each take extra precautions in your recreational rambling this week, and remain on guard for exuberant drivers with all the forethought of a chewed chunk of fat.

Onward. This week, we’re pleased to begin on the right foot, or paddle rather, as the Rocky Mountaineers reclaim their throne as queens and kings of our sylvan paradise. On Fri., Sept. 12, take off on a two-day trip down the Missouri River through the White Cliffs area. The 46-mile route contains no whitewater—remember the fickle finger of Fate, people—and is thus deemed appropriate for all but the completely inexperienced. Call Chris at 203-4962 or e-mail hammaneater@yahoo.com.  

Now, there’s more to getting out than simply bagging peaks or running rivers: there’s the art, too, you know. And that’s where the fifth annual Anaconda Wildlife Expo, which opens to the public at 10 AM on Sat., Sept. 13, comes in. Over thirty artists, a collection of mountain men, a troupe of trout hatchers, an art auction and a wild game feed all contribute to the general feeling of wildness. Tickets to the formal events are $25. Call 563-4596 or e-mail kltj69@aol.com.

If you’ve ever dreamed of sliding down a slick and brushy slope only to make love over and over at the bottom—you know, like they did in Romancing the Stone—the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation’s got you covered. Well, partially. On Sat., Sept. 13, take off on a five-day trail work trip on Bruce and Crazy Creeks in the Birch Creek country of the Rocky Mountain Front. All the logistics—from pack support to meal planning—are taken care of, so you need only bring yourself and your camping gear. Visit bmwf.org or call 387-3808.

Meanwhile, the patriots among us will be in Three Forks, where Sat., Sept. 13, sees the beginning of the two-day Appleseed Shoot, a gunpowder-fueled history lesson run by the Revolutionary War Veterans Association. They’re all about an informed and marksman-like citizenry, and they have an endlessly odd and entertaining website, where you can get all the details: appleseedinfo.org.

A bit of less-than-revolutionary fare comes that same day, Sat., Sept. 13, with the Five Valleys Audubon Society’s half-day trip to the Tower Street Open Space near Sleven’s Island at 8 AM. You’ll see passerines, waterfowl and raptors, and hopefully the dark specters of Oblivion steer clear. Call 327-1525.

Take a magic trip with Larry “The Mushroom Man” Evans, when he presents a Fall Mushroom Foray on Sat., Sept. 13, at 1 PM at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St. Make sure to cut all specimens lengthwise, people. $20/$15 members. RSVP 327-0405.

Bonner’s the place to be at noon on Sun., Sept. 14, when the Friends of Two Rivers’ Community Day begins at the Bonner School. A nastiest bug contest—bring your grossest exoskeleton!—home tours, music, food and displays make this free fest a perfect way to keep space between you and reincarnation. Call 258-6286 or visit fo2r.org.

On Mon., Sept. 15, the Monthly Moonwalk “Aquatic Moon” begins at 6 PM at the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge in Stevensville with a nature walk before the interpretation starts at 7. Scientists and educators give you a sense of the critters depending upon a nice rainy fall. Call 375-2606.

Finally, after a long absence, the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto—aka the Cavers—resurface for a meeting to share pictures of their summer adventures at 7 PM on Wed., Sept. 17, at Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St. Bring a shot or two of your season’s exploits, or maybe just a shot of the nephew to share.

To recap: The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near. Now go, and be vigilant.
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