Mountain High 

It’s a big world out there, recreationalists, and there are plenty of us who want to take part in the adventure. As a collective group of somewhat-commonly-minded individuals, I think it’s safe to say that we share this notion: We want the freedom to enjoy ourselves in the outdoors without having to fear the mindless actions of other humans.

Such was my thinking this past Sunday as I sped southbound on Montana Route 56, heading back to Missoula from the Troy area. The Cabinet Wilderness loomed large across the Bull River, and the twisty mountain road made me glad for modern braking devices.

When we came upon the white Dodge Caravan, which was so obviously piloted by a wasted driver, it didn’t take us long to fall back and give the hazardous element plenty of room. Swerving—not drifting, but swerving—from one yellow line to the other, and then across both, the vehicle was a clear and present danger. Several hair-raising episodes ensued, including a near-miss taking place between the van and a Suburban, and a mid-highway skidding stop, after which the driver threw the van into reverse and backed up to their turn onto Angel Island Road. As we took our leave of the situation, the boozy rig raced toward a narrow bridge and the two pedestrians walking there. I almost couldn’t look, but gladly they missed the two.

Let me make myself perfectly clear: Drunk driving is not an acceptable outdoor recreational pursuit. If you need to be wasted in the wilds, take an example from this week’s Mountain High photograph. Do you see how happy the young lass on the right appears? She’s got no motor vehicle, no cares, no responsibilities. Hell, she’s not even got any clothes to worry about. She exemplifies the kind of inebriated wildlands recreation we ardently promote here at the Indy. Read on and take note.

Speaking of roads, we begin with a sobering wake-up call in the form of a movie. On Thu., June 11, the Roxy Theater presents the Montana premier of the film Division Street at 7 PM. The film highlights the fractured habitat our roadways have created for wildlife, and offers solutions you can get behind. The evening’s sponsors stick around afterwards for a panel discussion, so you can get further into the fray. $5.

While I wouldn’t recommend heavily boozing for this one, you can always check in with trip leaders Dan and Susannah Casey, who preside over the Flathead Audubon’s Warbler Weekend Campout at Tally Lake on Fri., June 12, and Sat., June 13. A group campsite’s been reserved, you can bring your boats and hiking boots, as well as your volleyball outfit—or play au natural, in the spirit of our delightful model—but make sure to call 857-3143 first. $12 per night.

Another posse of not-so-hammered outdoor enthusiasts beckons. The Montana Natural History Center wants you to join Dr. Jim Halfpenny and Michael Leach for the three-day Wild Yellowstone with the Experts trip, which begins on Fri., June 12. You’ll need to get on this one fast, so call 327-0405 to sign up, and as a word of warning, this one costs a few bucks, like in the $246-366 range. Visit montananaturalist.org.

A third and final trip offering comes by way of Five Valleys Audubon, which prods your naked heinie to undertake an overnight birding trip to the Dillon area on Sat., June 13. Nate Kohler leads the expedition, which touches down at both Bannack State Park and Clark Canyon Reservoir. There are reservations to be made at the Best Western in Dillon (683-4214), as well as RSVPing to do with Larry at 549-5632.

Sunday brings not only the pounding headache of over-consumption, but also a chance to kick it with Missoulians on Bicycles, who offer up Shirley’s Birthday Ride, which takes a mystery route after leaving from an undisclosed location at a time that remains unannounced. Get solid information when you call Shirley herself at 728-4963.

The weekend’s nude fire dancing fades into memory as we move into the week proper, where Tue., June 16 signifies the beginning of a bowhunter’s education class at 6 PM at the Elusive Moose Archery Center, in between Victor and Hamilton. If you’re new to the sport, you need to take one of these classes. Call 542-5500.

If you’re feeling too naked and tipsy to take on bowhunting, maybe tearing plants out of the earth is more your bag. If that be the case, a Dyer’s Woad Pull beckons your naked—or gloved—hands at 6:30 PM at the Mount Sentinel trailhead. You can call Marilyn at 243-6642.

Obviously, drunken behavior isn’t always to blame for wilderness mishaps. Take last summer’s lighters-and-phonebook-pages-inspired conflagration on Mount Sentinel, for example. Now that area plants have had a moment to regenerate, you’re invited to join ecologists Paul Alaback and Peter Stickney for a Mount Sentinel Fire Ecology and Wildflower Hike at 6:30 PM on Wed., June 17. Meet at the corner of Beckwith and Madeline Avenues, at the south side of the UM campus. Call 728-4696.

And with that, I encourage you to keep the Natty Ice on ice until you’re safely home, in your tent or at least in the passenger’s seat—no, that’s not technically legal, either—and remain ever-vigilant for erratically captained Dodge minivans.
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