Mountain High 

If you've never biked in and around Missoula in the wintertime under the light of the moon, after a fresh snow and away from those urban artifacts called "lamp posts," try it sometime. While it can certainly be dangerous—think black ice—I find it pretty tranquil. It has something to do with the way the moon radiates off the snow, giving your surrounding environs an alluring glow.

On Fri., Jan. 29, you can enjoy the luster of moonlit snow during a free Sunset/Moonlight Cross-Country ski trip at Lubrecht Forest. The trip, a joint outing between the Montana Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Rocky Mountaineers, starts at a TBA time and is apparently an easy jaunt for people not prepped for low-light skiing. The outing also includes a long break, so bring snacks and a jug with your strongest hot toddy mix—or perhaps just some hot cocoa. To find out where to meet, or to rideshare, contact Steve Schombel at 721-4686, or e-mail John Wolverton at yodelingdog@hotmail.com. Grab further deets by clicking to rockymountaineers.com.

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Perhaps your legs and loins ache for competition. If so, rest up and wake early on Sat., Jan. 30 so you don't space the 28th annual OSCR Trail Head Series Race Cross-Country Ski Marathon, which starts at 8 AM with in-person registration at the Seeley Creek Nordic Ski Trails, near Seeley Lake just off Hwy. 83. The competition itself starts at 9 AM with a "head start" on the 50k race for slower skiers, and resumes at 10 AM for those more experienced. A 20k race hits the ground at 10:15 AM, followed by a 10k at 10:30 AM. $40 for the 50k/$30 for the 20k/$25 for the 10k. Grab a registration form at missoulanordic.com and call Lynn at 677-2343 or Adrian at 677-7474.

Or, you could get your frost on and breathe heavy with your Garden City brethren. In that case, stick around town for Missoula Parks and Rec's Frost Fever 5k Fun Run/Walk, which starts at 10 AM on Sat., Jan. 30, at McCormick Park, 600 Cregg Lane. Once you've dusted off that pair of old-school Saucony shoes and slapped on your sweetest running garb—just leave the short shorts at home, okay?—be prepared to dash around Missoula's riverfront trails with the intent of kicking snow and taking names, or something along those lines. $25, with registration open until 9 AM on Jan. 30. Register in person at Currents Aquatics Center, 600 Cregg Lane, or online at active.com/running/missoula-mt/frost-fever-5k-fun-runwalk-2010. Call 721-PARK and visit missoulaparks.org.

Sat., Jan. 30, also offers Cujo the opportunity to score some winter action during the Second Annual Dog Skijoring Race, which starts at 12 PM at the ski track behind the Glacier Outdoor Center, located off Hwy. 2 just outside of Glacier National Park's west entrance. $25 pre-registered/cost TBA day-of, with 40 percent of the registration fee donated to the Humane Society of Northwestern Montana. If you're completely unfamiliar with the sport, here's a quick rundown: Your dog pulls your lazy, Nordic skiing derriere around a course using a harness. Sound fun? Then register by calling the center at 888-5454 or ring Whitefish's Animal Hospital at 862-3178. Click to blog.glacierraftco.com/dog-skijoring-race-slated-for-jan-30th for more info.

Shredders of all ages will likely froth at the mouth during this next offering on Sat., Jan. 30: Lost Trail's Freestyle Park—at Lost Trail Powder Mountain, off Hwy. 93 South near the Montana/Idaho border—hosts its Second Annual Uncle Justin Ale Ham Rail Jam, which starts with a barbecue at 1 PM, followed by a practice session on rail features that lasts until 2:30, and finally slipping into the rail jam by 3. $10 to enter, with registration due at noon at the mountain lodge. Visit ltpark.com/comps.

Once Tue., Feb. 2, rolls around, play dress up for a day and carry around a groundhog—since it's Groundhog Day—but don't act surprised if people give you dirty looks or think you need to be institutionalized. Actually, nix that idea and go register for a snowshoeing/track ID trip on Sat., Feb. 6, since registration is due Tuesday. The trip will be led by outdoors maestro Lee Metzgar, a retired wildlife bio prof and "interpretive naturalist," whatever that entails. $30. Visit life.umt.edu/crec/Outdoor/classes.php for more info and call 243-5172 to register.

Whacking around balls is always encouraged during our next event: Missoula Parks and Rec's Youth Winter Indoor QuickStart Tennis Program, which meets for kids ages 7–8 on Tue., Feb. 2, from 4:30–5:30 PM at the City Life Community Center Gym, 1515 Fairview Ave. This class meets this and every Tue. until Feb. 23. $40 resident/$32 non-resident. Register by calling 721-PARK. A class for kids ages 9–11 meets at the same time and place starting Thu., Feb. 4.

Later that night, let avalanches know you aren't gonna take their threats anymore by attending an Avalanche Awareness Workshop, which starts at 7 PM in UM's Urey Underground Lecture Hall. Free. A subsequent lecture meets at the same time and place on Wed., Feb. 3. The lectures culminate in two separate field trips that weekend for skiers/snowboarders and snowmobilers. That costs $10, and you'll sign up for that at the end of the second lecture. Visit missoulaavalanche.org/events.

Finally, check these events on Thu., Feb. 4: Willie Weir, an adventure cycling junkie of the highest order, presents the talk "A Frugal Cyclist's Guide to the Universe" at 7 PM in UM's Urey Underground Lecture Hall. Free. Also, don't forget that Feb. 4 marks the start of the Telemark Evening Race Series at Montana Snowbowl. Find out specifics by e-mailing info@missoulatelechallenge.com and visit missoulatelechallenge.com for a registration form.

And with that, I'll see you on the flipside, perhaps under the effulgence of our lunar neighbor.

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