Mountain High 

Even though many of us realize how asinine it is to leave our trash on the pristine lands surrounding Western Montana, a lot of us still do it. I'm not sure what it is, perhaps laziness, selfishness or just a general lack of foresight to the damage this causes.

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALEX SAKARIASSEN

This week, we can do something about it, at least on a small scale during the annual Bitterroot River Clean Up, which starts Sat., Sept. 12, at 10 AM and runs until 4 PM. You'll begin the benevolent drudgery in places as far south as Sula and as nearby as Missoula, on both the East and West Forks of the river. There'll be three separate locations to leave the refuse, and you can pick up garbage bags at local fly fishing shops in the Bitterroot, Bob Ward and Sons in Missoula and Hamilton, as well as at Missoula's REI. As thanks for your stewardship, you'll get a free barbecue meal at Anglers Roost, south of Hamilton. Call Don McGourty at 363-3146 to register or e-mail DMcGourty@fsbmsla.com.

If you're not completely up for picking through debris, but would still like to aid our rivers, I think you'd do well to head over to the Big Blackfoot Chapter of Trout Unlimited Fundraiser, which starts at 2 PM with a bus tour of three recent Blackfoot Valley restoration projects, followed by a barbecue and more at 5 PM at the Rolling Stone Ranch in Ovando. Tickets cost $50 per person for the bus tour, dinner and a Monte Dolack poster, or $25 per person for the bus tour and dinner. The nonprofit plans to use all proceeds for restoration projects in the area. You were also supposed to RSVP by Sept. 5, but hurry and call Ryen at 677-6454 or e-mail bbctursvp@gmail.com.

Those of us low on cash but interested in helping Gaia out through observation and documentation ought to take heed: This is the last weekend this year you'll be able to head out with the Great Burn Study Group during its ongoing series of volunteer monitoring trips. The final expedition takes you to Mallard Larkins and runs from Sept. 11–13. Once there, you'll monitor weeds and wildlife and other details in order to understand management of this wildland. So, if you've got an open schedule, call Beverly Dupree at 240-9901 or e-mail thegreatburn@yaho.com.

After giving back, I think it's time to live it up.

And what better way to indulge than with an 80-mile bike ride with Missoulians on Bicycles to celebrate member Shirl Braxton's 80th birthday. If you're down for some profuse peddling, get over to Perkins Restaurant on Mullan and Reserve Streets on Saturday at 8 AM and get ready for a voyage that includes stops in Frenchtown, the Blue Mountain area and various locales around Missoula. You can join the crew at any point during this jaunt, so call Patty at 544-3757 with questions.

If that's not enough enjoyable punishment for your body, I think you should spend your Saturday with members of the Rocky Mountaineers for 70 miles of mountain biking as well as 26 miles of running and trekking from Missoula to Lolo Pass. The plan is to leave town early in the morn, bike from the Zoo to Lolo Pass all the way to the turn off for Elk Summit. You'll continue up the summit's gravel road, and then jump off your bike and run like a maniac up to the Blodgett Creek trailhead. The trip is slated for either this Sat., Sept. 11, or Sat., Sept. 19, depending on interest, so let Joshua Phillips know where you stand by giving him a call at 543-0898 or e-mailing him at mtsurveyor@gmail.com.

Also, if you'd like to know more about the group, plan to stop by their September meeting this Wed., Sept. 16, at 6 PM at Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St., or visit www.rockymountaineers.com.

Perhaps you have an ankle biter under your wing, and intense bike races and climbs just aren't an option. If so, I've got a handful of kid-friendly activities in store for y'all too.

The first is the Montana Natural History Center's Magnificent Migrators activity on Sat., Sept. 11, at 2 PM at the center, 120 Hickory St. It's an opportune chance for kids to brush up on Montucky's assortment of birds that migrate, as well as play games and meet a saw-whet owl in person. $2 per child/free for members. Call 327-0405 or visit www.montananaturalist.org.

If you don't mind a trip to Lolo, you and your bambino might wanna catch a series of living history presentations and workshops on Saturday and Sunday as part of the 204th anniversary of Lewis and Clark's stay at the site of Traveler's Rest State Park, located half-a-mile west of Lolo on Highway 12. These endeavors run from 10 AM–5 PM each day and include presentations and discussions on pow-wow regalia and fire ecology, along with workshops on moccasin making and more. Admission is free for kids/$2 parents, with a $25 fee per workshop. Call 273-4253 or click over to www.travelersrest.org for a full sched.

And before I leave you for the week, there are two other outdoors oriented events for y'all. The first is a talk by Bob Danley sponsored by the Five Valleys Audubon Society titled "Being a Naturalist: Honing Your Skills" on Mon., Sept. 14, at 7 PM in Room L14 of UM's Gallagher Business Building. Danley is a naturalist for the Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge and aims to help hone your naturalist skills beyond just birds. E-mail Poody McLaughlin at pmcregan@bresnan.net.

Lastly, I'd like to remind you that the Watershed Education Network has two more training slots open for community volunteer water monitoring: Sat., Sept. 11, from 11 AM–1:30 PM and Tue., Sept. 15, from 4–6:30 PM, both at the Greenough Park Pavillion area. Free. Call 541-WATR or e-mail water@montanawatershed.org.

That's all I've got for now. Until next week, keep the trash where it belongs: in the trash bin and out of our ecosystems.

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