Mountain High 

I was at Bernice’s once and overheard a UM student telling her mother, “We’re more about bears here in Missoula than buffalo.”

I took it as quite the blanket statement, and as someone who’s done my little bit for both the ursine and the bovine—apologies for the connection to domestic cattle—I take exception to that sentiment, and I hope you’ll do the same.

Your big chance comes this weekend, as the Seventh Generation Fund’s Tatanka Oyate Project, Horse Butte Neighbors of Buffalo and the Buffalo Field Campaign present a traditional Buffalo Honoring Ceremony led by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe. The event begins at 11 AM on Sun., May 31, on the lovely Horse Butte peninsula in the West Yellowstone area. A community potluck meal takes place following the ceremony, at roughly 3 PM in West Yellowstone’s Union Pacific Dining Hall. For directions and more information call 646-0070, or visit buffalofieldcampaign.org.

Another opportunity comes our way here in the northern lands, and this one’s got sustainability slathered all over it. An Earthship is a sturdy passive solar structure usually built from dirt-filled tires and other reused materials that regulate indoor temperature using the helpful properties of thermal mass and good ventilation. Earthship Biotecture of Taos, N.M., brings the technology up to Montana this summer, with a three-week Earthship Intern Opportunity that begins on Mon., July 27. The idea is to build a demonstration project to illustrate the Earthship concept, so all hands will certainly be needed on deck. If you’ve a hankering to help build the house of the future, visit earthship.org and get the registration started.

Finally, another summer opportunity comes your way along a slightly different channel. The Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a conservation-minded nonprofit that embraces the young and non-female as well, host a four-day fundraising rafting trip on the Salmon River through the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness from July 23–28. The $1,429 price tag per person should keep the riff raff off the river, and you can deduct $250 from next year’s taxes. Contact Mason at (208) 290-3737 or mason@raftkbear.com.   

And we zero back in on the present day and the present locale, Missoula. Please take whatever outdoor recreation precautions you deem necessary on Thu. and Fri., for as Flavor Flav once rapped, “I can’t do nuttin’ for you, man.” I can, however, do sumpin’ for you on Sat., May 30, when the kids-n-nature event “Got Birds?” features Lolo National Forest wildlife interpreter Sue Reel and UM ornithologist Dick Hutto, and begins at 8:30 AM at Jacob’s Island near the UM footbridge. It’s free, loaner binocs are provided and you can call Sue at 329-3831.

Oddly enough, this next event actually begins half an hour before the one above. On behalf of the Clark Fork Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society and the Five Valleys Audubon Society, allow me to invite you to meet at 8 AM on Sat., May 30, in the UM Adams Center parking lot for the Bandy Ranch Birding and Plant Field Trip. You’ll carpool up to the Ovando Valley, with a great number of stops for peeping the native flora and winged fauna. Call Larry at 549-5632.

And a nearby community cries out for the assistance of your lean ‘n’ mean body as the Evaro Mountain Challenge takes place on Sat., May 30, with registration beginning in the big tents near Highway 93’s mile marker 7. The 5K and 10K runs and walks are a fundraiser for the Evaro Community Center, so stretch those tendons, flex those muscles and plop down a little dough in the name of civic cohesion. Register at active.com (search for “Evaro Mountain Challenge”) or call Bob at 726-3595.

Those intrepid Missoulians on Bicycles (MOBI) have been preparing for this next one all spring, and while the registration deadline’s long past (it was May 22), an e-mail I just opened reports that they’ll still take late-comers, so: The Tour of the Swan River Valley (TOSRV) is a two-day, 220-mile supported ride that takes place on Sat., May 30, and Sun., May 31, and returns this year to its origins with an overnight stop on the shore of Swan Lake. The ride’s proceeds funnel back into local communities, and the TOSRV’s relaxed atmosphere means you’ll enjoy the company of fellow cyclists, as opposed to defending your ego against a field of competitors. Go on, it’ll be fun. Visit missoulabike.org either way, as volunteers are also still needed.

The Rocky Mountaineers wouldn’t be content letting this weekend pass by without offering you a doubleshot of their love: On Sun., May 31, you can tag along on a trip up the Rattlesnake’s Gold Creek peak (Call Steve at 721-4686), or bump it up a notch as you scale Holland Peak in the Swan Range (Contact info’s sketchy, so try jsch@vierbicher.com). 

And last, but most certainly not least, we plunge a little bit into June, as Bill McClaren of the Flathead Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society presents a tour of the FVCC native plant garden at 7 PM on Wed., June 3. From there, the tour moves to the new gardens at the Museum at Central School. Call 257-2540. 

And with that, I bid you to keep your feet in the duff and keep reaching for the chem-trails.
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