Mountain High 

By now you’re probably aware that the extreme danger of spontaneous statewide combustion has forced the responsible agencies to impose Stage 2 fire restrictions upon their respective human charges, but do you know exactly what that means?

First of all, leave the explosives where they belong—in a plastic tote under the kitchen sink, like all good Americans—because you are totally not allowed to use them in the wild between 1 PM and 1 AM, which as we all know are basically the best hours for blowing up the backcountry.

Also, there is to be no welding in the woods for the time being, neither with MAPP gas nor oxyacetylene, which is to say that this is most definitely not the time to be perpetrating vigilante repairs on Forest Service cabins and whatnot.

Finally, and this is really the kicker, all hikers and rec-heads are ordered to make certain that no two stones, of which at least one may contain a significant percentage of flint, are disturbed in such a way that leads to their striking one another and creating the spark necessary to end it all for the remaining million of us.

But seriously folks, play it safe out there and learn what these restrictions mean from someone who puts public safety ahead of humor: Visit dnrc.mt.gov/public_interest/currentrestrictions.asp for the straight dope.

And speaking of dope, though not really, the Great Burn Study Group is planning to blaze on down the trail in their continuing efforts to monitor weeds, wildlife and more on their trip to Pollock Ridge in Idaho’s Great Burn proposed wilderness from Fri., July 27, through Sun., July 29. If you’ve got a hankering for roadless backcountry, call Beverly at 240-9901.

The current threat of terror by fire has everyone seeking safe haven, which may be the reason that the Great Burn plays host to not one but two groups of bandy-legged tourists this week: The Sierra Club offers their own 16-mile trip into the wild and rugged backcountry of the Great Burn from Fri., July 27, through Sun., July 29. Space on this trip is very limited, so be the first sylvan demolitionist on your block to call Bob at 549-1142.

There must be something about restricted access that ramps up our altruism hormones, because this week’s outdoor offerings are full of groups going out not only to enjoy, but also to do good. Case in point: The Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation leads a day trip to Skiumiah Lake in the Great Bear Wilderness on Sat., July 28. You’ll clear trail, hack up brush, refrain from all manner of metalsmithery and enjoy wonderful views of the Flathead Valley as soon as you call Shannon at 863-5411.

Did I jinx myself, or what? Here comes another gang of rosy-fingered do-gooders with intent to map invasive weed species and inventory campsites during their four-day trip into the Cabinet Mountains. Join UM’s Wilderness Institute for a trip to the Sky Lakes area from Sat., July 28, through Tue., July 31, which all begins with a call to Laurie at 243-5361.

Okay, if you’re not sitting down, go ahead and do so. I can wait. If you’re feeling as hot-blooded as I am these days, you’d be advised to quit with the head games and get down to Whitefish Mountain Resort—which inhabits the same space as Big Mountain—for an urgent show from Lou Gramm, lead singer of Foreigner, at 6 PM on Sat., July 28. I promise it’ll feel like the first time.

Even if it takes you a few days to get “Juke Box Hero” out of your head, you’ll still recover in plenty of time to take full advantage of this next mellow offering: The Bitterroot’s Canyons Athletic Club leads a day hike to Castle Rock, just a stone’s throw west of Darby, at 11 AM on Mon., July 30. You’ll want a daypack with food, first-aid supplies, and layers, for the weather in the shade has been known to get “cold as ice.” Call 363-1555.

After a blue morning, enjoy a blue day in the Bitterroot as you while away the hours waiting for this next sucker to roll down the pike: the staff and ghosts at Fort Owen State Park await your 8 PM arrival for “Dancing by the Light of the Moon,” a two-part program at the site of Montana’s most ancient “white” settlement. Enjoy tours of ye olde homesteade before shaking your Manifest Destiny-maker to the musical virtuosity of guitarist, autoharpist and banjo-plinker Bill Rossiter. Call 375-2606.

Finally, the Canoe Rack and Paddle MT invite you to attend their Introduction to Recreational Kayaking class at 6 PM on Tue., July 31. The three-hour class covers some of the basics and will whet your whistle as only the ghost-of-boating-future can.

So take this stuff and run with it—but for God’s sake take the matches out of your pocket first—and let me know how it goes. I’ll be waiting for a girl like you.
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