Mountain High 

Summer's swelter has finally hit us, which means most of us are finding cool comfort on a river, bouncing up and down on inner tubes with beer in tow, soaking up the sun's rays.

Whatever your outdoor pleasure, the Calendar Playa has a week chock full of events for you in Missoula and the Flathead, from wildlife appreciation parties, backpacking trips and lectures to fungi identification and more.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER

Hey ladies! Let's kick off the week with an event for you. The Women's Whitewater Weekend at the Alberton Gorge starts at a TBA time Fri., Aug. 7 and rolls through Sun., Aug. 9. The trip costs $250 and includes camping, meals and equipment. Women ages 18 and up receive whitewater rafting instruction from Gena Moore and Yael Girard, two river guides who have extensive whitewater rafting experience from various rivers around the country, including the Potomac River back east and the Kings River in California's Central Valley. No experience is necessary, so jump on in. Call 777-4837 or 240-8060 to register and ask for Bernice or Gena.

If you've had your water fill, Friday offers a volunteer backpacking trip, part of the Wilderness Institute's series of conservation trips to the Sapphire and Blue Joint Wilderness Study Areas. Packers will head off to the Nez Perce Pass to travel the state line trail up to Reynolds Lake. Once there, you'll cram your brain with information so you can help monitor invasive species, native plants, recreation impacts and wilderness character. Call 243-5361, e-mail wi@cfc.umt.edu or click over to www.cfc.umt.edu/wi.

On Saturday, you can slap your cerebral cortex around with enough fungi knowledge to perhaps carry on a convo with mushroom guru Larry Evans during the program Learn About Mushrooms at Salmon Lake State Park. It's five miles south of Seeley Lake off Highway 83 at 8 PM. Free. Glen Babcock of Garden City Fungi will enlighten you with discussions of local fungi, the lifecycles of mushrooms and how to identify the little buggers in the wild. He'll also tell you how to grow mushies in your own back yard. (Not those kind.)

If the fungus effects have subsided by Sunday, skip church and head back to the river for a few hours of partying with the Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup, which hosts the Ninemile Wildlife Celebration and Community Appreciation Party at the Ninemile Community Center at 25620 Nine Mile Road in the Ninemile/Huson area. It's from 4–7 PM. Free. Bring friends, family and a potluck dish to share and expect good food, presentations, and games for the kids.

After a full weekend of play, Monday brings even more for kids and adults alike.

Little skater punks aged 7–11 can rejoice in the fact that they can still join the Montana Skatepark Associa-tion's ongoing Mobash Sk8 clinics, which kick off Monday with a sesh from 8:30–11 AM and run through Friday at the MOBASH skatepark in McCormick Park, where your little skater will get expert instruction on skateboard safety and skills. Also note that they'll be required to wear helmets, and bringing protective gear is recommended. However, if your little guy or gal doesn't have a skateboard or equipment, don't panic, they'll provide it. $78/$65 with resident discount card, scholarships are also available. Call Jason with Parks and Rec at 552-6271.

If you're a skater hater, you and your kid can instead sharpen your skills at hitting around fluorescent rubber balls during Youth and Adult Tennis Camps at Playfair Park, which run Monday through Aug. 20. Instructor Sarrah Carlson, who's certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association, will train your hands and your mind in the art of spatial accuracy during this introductory course. The youth camp, for ages 6–17, runs Monday through Thursday mornings at various times and costs $35. Adult camps are Mon.–Wed. from 5:30–7 PM and cost $47. Call 721-PARK.

After a long Monday, relax with a beer and then head down for a dip at Splash Montana's After Hours Adult Swim from 7:30–9 PM at Splash Montana in Playfair Park, where you'll be able to float away the day on the lazy river or play water polo with your buds. $5.75/ or $4.50 with a resident discount card. Call 542-WAVE.

Tuesday night offers something for those hardcore female bicyclists during one of the Montana Dirt Girls mountain bike rides, which this week takes pedalers up the Ravine Trail in the Grant Creek area. Plan to meet at the Ravine Trail at 6 PM, 4.6 miles up Grant Creek Road. The trail parking lot is on your left side. E-mail Julie Huck at jhuck@adventurecycling.org.

Whew! What a week, eh? Here's a toast to another one filled with muscle building, endorphin pumping, brain busting and conservation minded activities, all in the name of enjoying Mother Nature. So, once again, please keep sending me those e-mails, snail mail and phone calls when you hear of any outdoors events in our area by 5 PM on Fri., Aug. 7. Until then, don't be cursing the scorching sun. It'll be gone before we know it.

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