Mountain High 

Sometimes it’s as if the press release poets out there are reading my mind. Take, for instance, just the other day, when I was still tending to my sore feet and near-sunburned skin after another picture-perfect weekend of outdoor adventuring, and I started to plot my next exploit. Tackling Glacier before the inevitable onslaught of RVs and out-of-state plates? Been there already. Summit some of the best nearby mountains—the ones close enough to avoid paying an arm, leg and spleen at the pump? Done that. Snowboard a bit in what I recently heard dubbed Juneuary? Crossed off the list.

Just when I was ready to start planning a two-day Splash Montana binge—where exactly did I leave that inflatable alligator thing?—I came across the following inquisitive press release from Carla at the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, titled: “Volunteer for Trails and Travel the Scapegoat with Llamas.”

Llamas? Please, Carla, continue.

“Have you been looking for a reason to explore the rugged granite river valley of Dearborn in the Scapegoat Wilderness?” Maybe. Go on… “Have you ever wondered how to use a llama to pack gear and equipment in the backcountry?” Um, perhaps more than I may like to admit. “Come help clear some trail with the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation and you will have the chance to experience both!”

And, sold! I may have to postpone my date with Splash Montana in order to trek out with some llamas. If you’re like me, just know that Carla and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation are looking for volunteers to head out from June 28 to July 5, so you have to act fast. If you can handle your own personal gear, the llamas will pack the food from camp to camp. For more information, visit bmwf.org or call Shannon at (406) 387-3808.

I don’t have anything else regarding llamas in this week’s edition, but I do have something with fish. Get to Tremper’s Shopping Center on Saturday, June 28, at 9:30 AM, for the Big Sky Basser’s Bassmaster CastingKids Competition. This is a chance for the wee ones—ages 7 to 14, to be exact—to test their basic fishing skills and win a chance to become one of 10 finalists for a national competition.   

Also for the kids this week: Missoula Parks and Rec offers outdoor adventure classes throughout the summer. This week they’re pushing the High Adventure Camp, for 12–15-year-olds, which begins July 14; the Open Climb at the McCormick Climbing Wall for those 8 and older every Friday at 5:30 PM; and the Adventure Challenge Ropes Course for anyone over the age of 12. For more information, call 721-PARK.

No word on whether llamas and kids are involved, but Steve Niday of the Rocky Mountaineers will be lugging a survey tripod and high-accuracy GPS receiver on the group’s trip to McLeod Peak Saturday, June 28. Why? Turns out Niday is putting our tax dollars to work—no, really—on this trek to the highest peak in the Rattlesnake area, hoping to improve our knowledge of the basic framework of the Public Land Survey System. He invites other climbers to completely ignore him—or, if you’re interested, learn a little bit about how these GPS gizmos work. Either way, call Steve at 721-3790 for the particulars.

You don’t need any GPS receivers on the Larry Creek Fire Ecology Trail. That’s where members of Be Active Bitterroot will be listening for Swainson’s thrush bird songs and other delights beginning at 6 PM on Thursday, June 26. Meet at the Larry Creek day use parking area to begin this 2.5-mile hike.

Speaking of birds, join the Five Valleys Audubon Society for a four-mile hike near Dean Stone Mountain Saturday, June 28, at 8 AM. They’ll be looking for a Rock Wren and Larry Weeks will be their guide. Call Larry at 549-5632.

For those of you hoping to see the great outdoors—and beyond—but maybe not break a sweat, make sure to check out the Public Observing Night at the University of Montana’s Blue Mountain Observatory Friday, June 27, at approximately 10:30 PM. The event is free, but will be cancelled in the event of cloudy skies. Call 243-5179.

Lastly, a word about safety. The UM Outdoors Club and the Rocky Mountaineers host a Wilderness Medical Essentials course taught by Aerie Backcountry Medicine on Sunday, June 29. As of press time, there were still three discount spots open for the eight-hour course, which promises to focus on the unique and difficult application of first aid in backcountry environments, where options and resources are limited. If you get in quick, the course runs just $30; latecomers must pay $65. For more information or to register, call Steve Niday at 721-3790 to register. But don’t ask him about GPS stuff this time. Or llamas.
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