Mountain High 

Too…much…going on… Must…truncate…intro…

With any luck, you’re standing there on Thu., July 24, having just picked up a pipin’ hot copy of the Indy, ready to embark right this second on an adventure in Montana’s great wilds.

If that’s the case, 24’s your lucky number, as two trips leave in the next few hours (assuming the above scenario still holds).

First, the Rocky Mountaineers—that randy band of crag-baggers—offers up a three-day journey into the Scapegoat Wilderness, up the North Fork of the Blackfoot, and they plan to camp near the trailhead on the evening of Thu., July 24, so as to enhance the next day’s hiking. A 14-mile round-trip gives this long weekend trip a nice relaxed feel. Call Julie at 543-6508.

Or don’t. You could instead choose to sally forth into the Bitterroot National Forest—where everyone from chipmunks on up to rangers is all a-twitter with Civilian Conservation Corps 75th Anniversary buzz—where Be Active Bitterroot hosts the three-mile Tin Cup Loop Hike beginning at 6 PM on Thu., July 24,
at the Darby Ranger Station. You’ll relish views of dense woods and recently burned areas, and you’re advised to bring water-friendly shoes, as a creek crossing awaits. Call 381-2951.

While I never thought I’d get to use the words “gospel” and “hump” in the same sentence, their conjugal connection is starting to make sense. You too can delve into the mysterious moniker when you take part in a three-day monitoring trip into the Gospel Hump Wilderness, which leaves on Fri., July 25. Map weeds, inventory campsites and learn some natural history of the area. Call 243-5361.

It’s a great time to lead groups of good-doers into the forest, it would appear: Also on Fri, July 25, the Sierra Club leads a 15-mile, three-day mission into the Great Burn proposed wilderness, a 250,000 acre roadless area on the Montana-Idaho border. Call 549-1142, and pray you don’t bump into the other group poking around the Great Burn—you see, starting on Sat., July 26, the Great Burn Study Group will lead a group to the Ward Eagle area, doing all that monitoring work they like to do. If you’d rather go with them, the number to call is 240-9901.

But if you go on one of those trips, you’ll miss out on the chance to infiltrate the Blue Mountain Observatory at roughly 10:15 PM on Fri., July 25, when the latest in their series of Observing Nights kicks off for upward-gandering folks. This event doesn’t happen if the sky’s
cloudy, so call 243-5179 before you attempt the drive, and snag directions at physics.umt.edu/bluemountain.

Last monitoring trip of the week, I swear: Hook up with the hotties of Wildlands CPR on Sat., July 26, when they host a day trip into the Clearwater National Forest to assess all manner of criteria. This one actually sounds pretty cool, with the opportunity to set motion-activated cameras and trackplates, which sound like something related to land mines. We’ll hope not as we call Aaron at 542-2255.

Ease your overdeveloped sense of responsibility a bit more locally when you take part in the Blackfoot River Cleanup Day on Sat., July 26. The meeting spot is Bonner’s Rainbow Bend Drive, and you’ve got options for meet-up time: 8 AM for divers and support rafters, 9 AM for walkers, waders and floaters. Oh, and a barbecue awaits at the end of your trash run. Sign up for a section of the river when you call 244-5442.

Or let somebody else pluck your old Double Haul cans out of the river—you’ve got a date with the Montana Natural History Center, where Byron “The Bug Man” Weber presents a fun-filled—and totally chitinous, yet not creepy—workshop on Beneficial Insects at 10 AM. Learn how bugs can work for you once
you call 327-0405. $15/$10 members.  

Here’s one that fits perfectly with that day of silence your friends have been encouraging you to undertake: The Big Hole National Battlefield, located near Wisdom hosts Gene Hickman, whose presentation on the history of sign language in the area begins at noon on Sat., July 26. His presentation takes place several times through the weekend, so if you get lost and nobody knows how to sign the directions, you can catch one of the later showings. Call 689-3155.

Rather than actually going into the woods, how’s about we just celebrate them instead? Fine. The fifth annual Yaak Wilderness Festival kicks off at 1 PM on Sat., July 26, at the Dirty Shame Saloon in Yaak. Support local craftspeople, maybe win a kayak in the raffle, deposit the kids at the age-appropriate activity center of their choice and spend the day shaking that wild booty of yours to the tunes of Sol Jibe,the Alan Lane Band, Amy Martin and Sloppy Louis. $20/$15 advance andstudents/under 13 free. Call 295-9736 or visit yaakvalley.org.

Take Sunday and Monday off, recreationally speaking, so you’ll be that much more primed for the Dirt Girls’ Deer Creek Sneak, a longer yet technically easy ride that leaves from the UM foot bridge at 6 PM on Tue., July 29. Plus, they stop at Dairy Queen on the way home, so the deal’s sealed for me.
And until next we find our sylvan selves locked in mortal combat, I wish happy trails upon all you dirt girls and boys.
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