The reason we suffer through winters in Montana is almost upon us, and in anticipation of a summer outdoors, Missoula is offering up plenty of ways to prepare your mind, body, equipment and trigger finger for the season ahead. All need adequate time to recover from winter’s dormancy, so it’s best to get an early start:
To begin with, Missoula Parks and Recreation celebrates Arbor Month this April with the 17th Annual Run for the Trees, a 5k walk or run on Sat., April 4, at 10 am on the Riverfront trail system. Participants must register at Currents Aquatics Center or at active.com by Thu., April 2, and the cost is $25 for adults and $20 for kids. Call 721-PARK.
In keeping with bipedal locomotion, Missoulians on Bikes (MOB) invite you along for Turtles, Bison and Bikes, a 38.5 mile ride on Sat., April 4, meeting at Adventure Cycling, 150 E. Pine St. at 11:45 AM, or at Ninepipes Restaurant, between St. Ignatius and Ronan, at 1 PM. The Ride will take you on a loop from Ninepipes to Ravalli, Dixon, Charlo and back to the Ninepipes Lounge for a debriefing. Call 250-7228. If you happen to prefer Granite County to Lake, on Sun., April 5, MOB will lead a ride from Bearmouth to Drummond, meeting for carpool at the Eastgate Parking lot at 8 AM. Call 728-8722.
In preparation for that grand fall season of big game, guns, and elk jerky, there is a summer full of Hunting 101 courses to be had in and around Missoula, beginning next week. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks asks that you register by Mon., April 6, for their free Hunter Education class, running from April 14–27, at the Hamilton Assembly of God Church, 601 W. Main St. Students must be at least 11 years old, and those under 18 should bring a parent or guardian to register. Call 542-5500 or visit fwp.mt.gov.
For hunters who would rather bag a kill the (somewhat) old-fashioned way, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is offering a free Bowhunter Education Class on Wed., April 8–Fri., April 10 from 6:30 PM–9 at the Florence School Administration Building, with a field course set for Sat., April 11 at 9 AM. Classes are free, and those under 18 must bring an adult to registration on the first night of class. Call 542-5500.
And just in case some of you outdoor enthusiasts out there are getting a little too big for your britches, the Montana Mountain Goat is here to keep you in check, as the oldest man to ever summit Mount McKinley, at 71.5 years old—and then do a headstand on top of the mountain. Mario Locatelli will give a presentation about his new book, The Mountain Goat Chronicles, and climbing in general at the Wed., April 8, meeting of the Rocky Mountaineers at Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St., at 7 PM. Free. Visit rockymountaineers.com.
To get folks extra anxious for the big thaw, the Clark Fork Chapter Photographers is putting on an early season refresher slide show featuring images of Montana’s Wetland Wildflowers on Thu., April 9, in UM’s Gallagher Business Building, Room L14, at 7:30 PM, where you can practice your flower-naming skills. Free.
To make sure all your equipment is nice and fresh for the riding season, REI is hosting National Bike Clinic week, which will be duly celebrated on Thu., April 9, from 3 PM–7 at the REI Bike Maintenance Event, held in front of their store at 2230 N. Reserve St, Ste. 300. REI and Freecycles team up to answer questions about basic bike maintenance needs, and feel free to bring your bike along for inspection. Free. Call 829-0432.
For those of you who’ve decided that this is finally going to be the summer you learn how to cast a line just right, there are few people better to imbibe this knowledge from than George Kessel, who hosts a weekly Fly Fishing Class at UM’s Jeannette Rankin Hall beginning Thu., April 9, at 6 PM. $52/four class days and two field days, but you must register by Tue., April 7. Call 243-5172.
If you happen to be fonder of feathers than scales, the Five Valley Audubon society offers the first of three classroom sessions in an intermediate birders workshop, beginning at 7 PM on Thu., April 9, at the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks office on Spurgin Road, where you will learn to identify everything from hawks, eagles and owls to waterfowl, woodpeckers and warblers by ear. $35. Call 549-5632.
Speaking of the call of the wild, our final Mountain High event of the week —and perhaps the one most relevant to your outdoor safety—is the Wind River Bear Institute’s free presentation about reducing human-wildlife contact at 7 PM on Thu. April 9, at the Ninemile ranger station in Huson. Don’t forget to bring the kiddies, ’cause the Wind River Karelian Bear Dogs will be on hand for a meet and greet, and there will be a presentation on just how they work with the bears and public.
After all, we just want to be able to enjoy the summer outdoors without barreling into a bear at 25 mph on a bicycle.