Picture this: You're miles away from civilization, in the northern stretches of Montana, and you're surrounded by jutting basins that feature a number of crystal clear lakes. The air smells fresh, clean and piney thanks to all those lodgepoles, Douglas firs and other trees that dot the landscape. Not only that, but you have 89 miles of trails at your disposal. Sounds like an outdoors sanctuary, yes? It is. And it can be yours to enjoy if you don't mind a little hard work. Here's the deal: UM's Wilderness Institute is looking for volunteers to join its first of seven weed monitoring trips up in the angelic Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area on Fri., July 2, with a trip to Bluebird Basin that runs until Mon., July 5. Once you're settled into the grandeur of the basin, you'll get to work by mapping and monitoring weeds, taking inventory of campsites, roads and trails, as well as any and all creatures you see moseying around. You'll also get the good word on invasive species and native plants, served up with a side of history on the area and its wildlife. Knowing your way around the woods is certainly a good thing too, but it isn't required for this trip. I'd RSVP quickly though, so call 243-5361 or visit www.cfc.umt.edu/wi/.
Of course, if the only weed monitoring you partake in is a careful eye on your medical sage supply, then that jaunt might not pique your interest. However, since I know you like to inhale stuff—like, say, air—I have a few options on tap. On Sun., July 4, also known as Independence Day—or as I like to call it, Freedom Toast Day—the Hamilton PTA hosts its annual Fun Run, a 10k, 5k and 1-mile walk/run that begins at the patriot-approved hour of 7 AM for 10k racers. The 5k follows at 8, along with the 1-mile race at 9:30 AM. $30 per person/$20 seniors/$20 for the 1-mile run/walk only. Grab registration forms at Hamilton businesses including Bob Ward & Sons and Canyon's Athletic Club, or click to www.runmt.com/2010HamiltonPTA Fun Run.pdf for a form. Registration forms can also be dropped off between 4–7 PM on Fri., July 2, at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds. Call Autumn at 544-7255.
Or let freedom ring from your soles up in Polson on Sun., July 4, during the second annual Firecracker 1776 1.1-mile run/walk, which begins with day-of registration at 11:40 AM at St. Joseph Medical Center in Polson, located at 6 13th Ave. E. Free, but you need to bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Polson Food Bank in order to join the race. Call Ed at 261-3334.
After you've nursed that post-Fourth of July liberty cabbage hangover, give a nod to stewards like John Muir and sign up on Mon., July 5, for the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation's backpacking/trail work trip in the Scapegoat Wilderness, which runs July 10–17. The outing, described as "strenuous," takes you into the heart of the Bob, with breathtaking hikes that send you as high as 8,500 feet. As for the trail work, it'll consist of sawing downed trees, cutting back bushes like a samurai (well, not exactly), as well as maintaining drainages and blocking off trails to reduce that nasty thing known as erosion. If that sounds like a knee slapping good time, go to bmwf.org/volunteer.php for details, and call Keagan at 387-3808 to register. Also note you have to pay a $50 refundable deposit for this multi-day project.
All the ladies in the place are cordially invited to pedal it up with your fellow females when the Montana Dirt Girls hit the Sam Braxton Trails in the Pattee Canyon for a bike ride at 6 PM Tue., July 6. Meet at the top of the canyon, and ready yourself for a sweet ride tailored for beginners. Visit mtdirtgirls.tripod.com.
My two favorite things, beer and film, come together for a grand cause on Wed., July 7, at Caras Park during New Belgium Brewing's Clips of Faith Beer and Film Tour, which runs from 8–11 PM at the park. Free to attend. And here's how it ties in with the highness of Mountain High: Many of the short films have outdoors themes, running the gamut from kayaking to bicycling. Plus, all beer and merch sales benefit the Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula. See the "Spotlight" in our calendar section for more details, and visit clipsoffaith.com.
Finish off your week with some avian observation when the Five Valley's Audubon Society leads a bird watching/camping trip in Glacier National Park, which runs Thu., July 8–Sun., July 11. You'll explore birds in Many Glacier and Red Eagle Lake, as well as on the Camas Creek and Howe Lake trails, with camping slated for St. Mary Campground on July 8–9 and the Fish Creek Campground on July 10. $10 per person. The trip is limited to 20 people, so RSVP fast by calling Larry at 549-5632 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Participants must also make their own camping reservations too, so ring 1-800-365-2267 or visit recreation.gov.
I'll leave you with a reminder that you still have time to register for CASA of Montana's Park2Park Montana ride, which runs Sept. 6–10. In case you're out of the loop, it's that 400-mile bike ride that takes you from Glacier to Yellowstone national parks. It also serves as a fundraiser for CASA, known as Court Appointed Special Advocates—a program of volunteers who advocate in court for abused and neglected children. Registration is due Thu., July 15, so hop to it and visit park2parkmontana.org and call 1-866-863-2272.
All right, now go map some weeds and hook me up with a bottle of that fresh lake water.