Election season's approaching in the next month, and at least one issue comes to my mind that should garner support from both sides of the political spectrum: conservation of wilderness. Unless you're someone who thinks everything should be paved, there's no doubt in my mind that despite their differences, liberals and conservatives in Missoula can break bread on their love for the outdoors and the beautiful hills and valleys that surround us. Or, at least, they should.
So as we bounce into this week, let's begin with a stop at the Montana Conservation Voters Missoula County Chapter Annual Potluck Thu., Oct. 1, from 6:30–8 PM at the Missoula Children's Theatre meeting room, 200 N. Adams St. Free. Bring a dish and a friend, and be prepared to visit with local candidates endorsed by MCV. Call 542-1055 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
But if your cockles get warmed by powdering up your hands and climbing up boulders, you might wanna head to the MCV event right at 6:30, then zoom over to UM's Urey Lecture Hall at 7 PM for the Fourth Annual Reel Rock Film Tour, which features screenings of the rock climbing vids Progression and First Ascent, plus two other award-winning films from the Reel Rock Competition. $10/$8 advance at UM's Campus Recreation Outdoor Program or from Pipestone Mountaineering. Call 243-5172.
After a raucous Friday at work, Saturday brings with it a chance to bond with your little one during another installment of activities at Traveler's Rest State Park near Lolo as part of its "Discover the Seasons of Traveler's Rest" series. The fun begins at 10 AM and centers on the history and culture of hunting, so get ready for hunting stories by Salish tribal elder Louis Adams, and others. Activities kickoff once again at 10 AM on Sunday and include a 1 PM discussion by Norman Jacobson on all the tasty game that Lewis & Clark chomped on during their expedition. There's more, so get the full low down at www.traversrest.org or call 273-4253. $2 adults/free kids. Also, keep in mind there's a six-hour parfleche-making workshop led by local artisan Scott Cameron that runs from 10 AM–4 PM on Saturday and costs $25. Call 529-8211 to register in advance.
If tales of hunting seem lackluster, you can also spend Saturday doing your part to help the Rocky Mountaineers clean out their cabin on Little St. Joseph Peak to make it hospitable for the winter, which according to their website is free and open to the public for use. Tasks include cutting and stacking firewood under the cabin, and general cleaning inside the bungalow. Meet at the K-Mart parking lot in Missoula by 9:30 AM to head off. Bring work gloves, lunch and water. Afterwards, a potluck party ensues. Visit www. www.rockymountaineers.com or e-mail club president Joshua Phillips at email@example.com for more.
Saturday evening get your bones chilled when you scuttle over to the Ghost Moonwalk at 7 PM at the Blodgett Creek Campground in the Bitterroot Forest, where you'll gather with others around a campfire to hear about ghosts of the Bitterroot Valley, including a trapper who died an untimely death. These hair-raising tales should last about an hour, so bring a lawn chair, flashlight and appropriate clothes. Free. Call Julie Schreck at 375-2606. To get there turn west at the traffic light on Highway 93 and Main St. in Hamilton and cross the Bitterroot River. Take a right onto Ricketts Road and left onto Blodgett Canyon Road, and then follow the signs until you get to campground number six.
After a busy Saturday, slither into Sunday with the Montana Natural History Center as you jump at a hike to a neighboring ridgeline to observe an abundance of raptors during their fall migration. Meet at the MNHC headquarters, 120 Hickory St., at 7 AM and get those half-open eyes ready to potentially see a number of creatures including golden eagles, sharp-skinned hawks, osprey and whatever else your eyeballs catch. Don't worry if you're not up to snuff on birds of prey, as there'll be a guide on hand, too. Bring binoculars, a lunch, water and warm clothes for this free outing, which could be bumped to next weekend if the weather is foul. Space is limited so register ASAP by calling 327-0405.
Maybe you'd rather breathe heavily, swell your leg muscles and bust out some sweet biking moves on your day of rest. That's in store when you head to Missoulians on Bicycles' 33rd Annual Western Montana Hill Climbing Championships, which takes place sometime after 9 AM on the corner of Takima and Pattee Canyon drives. Once in place, cyclists depart at one-minute intervals and pedal frantically 840 feet up the canyon hill as they race against the clock. Participants of all ages and abilities are welcome and can sign up on Sat., Oct. 3 at Big Sky Bikes, 1110 South Ave. W., from 5–6 PM, or at the same place on Sunday from 7:30–9 AM. $3 non- members/$1 members. Visit www.missoulabike.org to download a flyer.
Before we close out the week two events on Thu., Oct. 8 rise to the surface. The first is a discussion on The Great Burn Wilderness Area and Fish Creek, featuring comments by Beverly Dupree, Vickie Edwards, Ladd Knotek and Bob Clark from 7–9 PM at the Roxy Theatre, 718 S. Higgins Ave. Free, with a social hour and appetizers to follow. RSVP by calling 549-1142 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lastly, join members of the Clark Fork Chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society at 7:30 PM as they glean the good word from UM prof Cara Nelson when she discusses "Rethinking Forest Restoration Strategies in the Western United States: Matching Practice to Theory" in Room L09 of the Gallagher Business Building on UM's Campus. Free.
Until we meet again, stay out of the smoke, keep informed about conservation-minded candidates in Missoula and keep pedalin' and hikin' like an outdoor freak.