Mountain High 

Lots going on this week, so the Calendar Playa, filling in this week for Comrade Calendar, will get right to it.

If you've always wanted to learn about identifying native plants, as well as the invasive species that threaten them, Morgan Valliant, also known as Missoula's conservation land manager, is your man. He'll lead a trip up the Mount Jumbo saddle to identify the area's naturally occurring flora, as well as those pesky pests, on Thursday, June 25, at 7 PM. Valliant also plans to discuss local restoration efforts to ward off invasive plants in this open space area. To join in, meet at the parking lot at the Lincoln Hills trailhead, just below the Mount Jumbo Saddle. Call 327-0405 or email

Those with a keen interest in cataloging the biodiversity of our surroundings—and really, who doesn't fit into that group?—might be interested in the first ever Bitterroot Bioblitz, a 24-hour activity starting at 3 PM on Friday, June 26, at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge near Stevensville. Scientists and volunteers plan to descend into the refuge to record as many plant and animal species as possible. There's limited space, and volunteers can be of any experience level, so head over to on the quick to register. If you miss the cataloguing, a series of free activities are also planned for Saturday, June 27, starting at 6 AM, including field and birding walks, a workshop on sketching plants and animals, and demonstrations on tying flies.

Closer to town, Larry Weeks and our local Five Valleys Audubon chapter, hosts a free, five-mile bird watching hike up Mount Sentinel, down the Hellgate Canyon Trail and through the Kim Williams Trail on Saturday, June 27, at 8 AM. Meet at 8 AM at the parking lot at the base of Mount Sentinel and be ready to spot a variety of winged creatures, including warblers, vireos, swallows, flycatchers, Calliope hummingbirds, spotted towhees and lazuli buntings.

If conservation is your thing, join the Wilderness Institute on one of its nine mapping and monitoring trips in the Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness study areas. This week, from June 26 to June 29, you'll head up to the Weasel Creek area in the Sapphire Mountains. The Wilderness Institute notes that dinners are provided and transportation is available from Missoula and many locations in the Bitterroot Valley. Run to grab more info and sign up at or call 243-5361.

Speaking of running, the Lolo Pass Half Mara-thon and 5k Fun Run kicks off on Saturday, June 27, at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center at 8:30 AM. Registration ended, but you can still cheer on runners as they race past Packer Meadows, a historical area that lies along the Lewis and Clark and Nez Pearce trail ways. Call Colleen Mathisen at 240-0287 or visit

Also on Saturday, the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club hosts a weed pull and demo project tour in the Sawmill Gulch Elk Habitat area. See a forest thinning demonstration project where attendees will, in part, learn about the North Hills Elk Herd. Meet at the main Rattlesnake trailhead at 8 AM and dress appropriately. Call Bert Lindler at 542-7645, or e-mail Free.

The same group heads out the next day on a Spring Wildflower Hike to the Packer Meadow/ Lolo Pass area. This 8-mile hike takes walkers across the Lee Ridge, or perhaps the Lewis and Clark/Nez Perce Trail, depending on weather conditions. Meet at the Lee Creek campground with horticulturalist Adrienne Hopkins, and bring your own lunch and water. Call Adrienne Hopkins at 543-3755 or e-mail John Wolverton at Free.

Some of us take to the outdoors on two wheels instead of two feet. For you, Missoulians on Bicycles leads a Geezer Ride to Montana Club on Sunday, June 28, at 10 AM. Riders leave from the Greenough park parking lot, at the corner of Monroe and Locust streets and pedal approximately 14 miles. For more info, call Gayle and Ernie at 240-9279, or head over to for further updates.

In the Flathead, the Flathead Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society hosts a handful of different events. On Saturday, June 27, fire ecologist Steve Wirt, a retired U.S. Forest Service fire specialist, explores previously burnt areas of the North Fork Road. Meet at the Nite Owl in Columbia Falls at 9 AM and bring your own lunch. Call 862-5452.

Alternately, botanist Anne Morley leads a wildflower identification walk along the Old Swan River Road on Tuesday, June 30. Meet in front of Showthyme Restaurant in Bigfork at 10 AM, or call 886-2242 for more info.

Also on Tuesday, June 30, Glacier National Park Nursery invites you to help seed, weed, transplant or work on a project inside the park. Call Joyce Lapp at 888-7817.

And that's not all. I'm pressed for space, but rest assured that Missoula Parks and Rec is in full summer mode. Check out the McCormick Climbing Wall every Friday, or the "Take Me Fishing" tackle loaner program. Try the Adventure Challenge Ropes Course or one of the MOBASH Sk8 clinics. For info on any of the above, call Jason Pignanelli at 552-6271 for more information.

That feels like a full week's worth of outdoor fun. Have fun out there, be safe, and rest assured that Comrade Calendar will be back in the saddle next week to scratch all your adventure itches. The Cave:Advertising:02 Production Art:IndyLogoDingbat2002.tifB:'ts and a",,"")>

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