Mountain High 

Now that the sweltering heat of summer has finally hit western Montana, the Calendar Playa is in full swing with a heaping helping of events to keep the sweat pouring out of our collective armpits. Most importantly, though, a handful of this week's outdoor offerings give us a chance say a thank you to the lands and waterways that we often take for granted.

But before work, there must be play. Consider heading up to Saturday's 2009 Seeley Lake Summer Biathlon, where inclined citizens can bike or run at the Wilderness Sportsman Club shooting range on Morrell Creek Road. Men, women and children of all experience levels are encouraged to attend the event, which kicks off with registration from 7—9 AM. A safety class follows at 9, with a race meeting at 10 and the run itself starting at noon. After you've gotten your heart rate up, expect it to increase a few more beats per minute when the cycling event starts at 1 PM. For cost and registration information, call Cheri at 677-2309 or e-mail her at solutions11@mac.com.

If you're unable to make it up to Seeley but still want to spend time out in the sun on Saturday, do your part to help keep the Blackfoot River clean from all those beer cans, wrappers and other trash during the annual Blackfoot River Clean-Up Day. The day starts at 8 AM with divers and support rafts hitting the river to scour for trash, with walkers, waders and floaters collecting the random assortment of refuse at 9 AM. A free barbecue follows the cleanup to satiate your belly after a long day of picking up other people's trash. If that sounds like fun and you've got the volunteer spirit to give back to a pristine waterway, plan to meet others at Rainbow Bend Drive on Highway 200, between mile markers eight and nine, at 8 AM if you plan to dive or raft and 9 AM if you're inclined to walk, wade or float. Call 244-5442.

Speaking of volunteerism on Saturday, the Sierra Club and Trout Unlimited offer another way to give back to our surroundings by sponsoring the Ninemile Watershed Restoration Day, which starts at 9 AM with a meet up at the Ninemile Ranger Station. Once there, you'll head to Little McCormick Creek to complete eight hours of restoration work in an area where westslope cutthroat trout call their home. Missoulians looking to carpool should meet at the Missoula Public Library by 8 AM. If you go, bring work gloves, water and raingear. Lunch and transportation will be provided. Call 549-1142 or e-mail Bob Clark at bob.clark@sierraclub.org.

After a few days of rest from all that volunteer work, you'll probably want to unwind on a lazy river. Thankfully, Splash Montana's After Hours Adult Swim kicks off at 7:30 PM on Mon., July 27. Call 542-WAVE for cost and other information.

After your chlorine soaked bodies have dried off and you've gotten a good night's rest, head up to Glacier National Park on Tuesday for a free discussion by Lucas Moyer-Horner called "Status of the American Pika in Glacier National Park" at the West Glacier Community Building in West Glacier at noon. Moyer-Horner has studied these diurnal members of the rabbit family since 2007—including identifying their habitat—and plans to discuss his findings. Call 888-5838.

Later that day, when it hopefully cools off a little bit, the Dirt Girls Mountain Bike Ride takes off from the Pattee Canyon Trailhead at 6 PM. Expect a ride through the Sam Braxton trails, as well as other nearby trails. E-mail Julie at msbicycle@gmail.com for further details.

Then, on Wednesday, before you head off to Wasted Wednesday or some other drink special night at our favorite watering hole, you'll have the chance to give back to the Clark Fork River's little buddy—aka Rattlesnake Creek—during the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed Group's Watershed Wednesdays. Plan to meet between 6 and 8:30 PM at the Bugbee Nature Area, off of Missoula Avenue in the lower Rattlesnake, for a post-work activity where you'll learn about plants and wildlife native to the area, as well as lend your hands to some restoration activities. Enthusiasm and work gloves are a must. Call Andrew at 531-2527 or e-mail rattlesnakecreek.watershedgroup@gmail.com.

Later that night, there's yet another event worth checking out called Native Plant Seed Collection. Bryce Christiaens, who works for Native Ideals Wildflower Seed Company, plans to teach green thumbs about ethical and effective ways to collect seeds from a variety of plant species at 7 PM, at the Fort Missoula Native Plant Garden. Cost TBA. E-mail Missoula City Councilwoman Marilyn Marler for directions at marilyn.marler@umontana.edu.

That's all I've got for you this week, outdoor junkies, so until next time, please send me all outdoors related events by 5 PM on Fri., July 24. In the meantime, keep pumping those endorphins and giving back to the lands we love.

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