Mountain High 

For the better part of the last year, my seven-speed Schwinn Cruiser bike has been a vital part of my life as my go-to vehicle for getting around town. It's gotten me to work in minus 6 degree weather, and it's provided me with a plethora of beautiful commutes during the summer months.

If you feel the same fondness for your trusty two-wheeled friend as I do, I'd recommend partying it up in honor of your bike during the third annual PEDal Festival, which kicks off at noon on Sun., Aug. 22. Dubbed as a celebration for bicyclists and pedestrians, the soiree includes bike repair demos, bike/pedestrian safety info, bike stunts performed by the Safety Team, bike jousting, an obstacle course, plus music by Beyond the Pale, Voodoo Horseshoes, Modality and the Dead Me Downs. It's free, and features food and beverage vendors, as well as a raffle with some sweet biking and walking-themed prizes. All proceeds go to Missoula in Motion, the Bike Walk Alliance of Missoula, and Free Cycles. Call 258-4963 and visit pedalfestmissoula.org.

Of course, that's just Sunday, and we've got plenty of other adventures to hit up before then. On Thu., Aug. 19, a little bit of hard work translates into a weekend filled with delightful sights during the sixth volunteer trip to the Ten Lakes Wilderness Study Area with UM's Wilderness Institute. This week's outing runs from Thursday to Mon., Aug. 23, and takes you through the heart of the Ten Lakes Area by Poorman Mountain and Wolverine Lakes. What follows is a weekend of mapping and monitoring weeds, as well as taking inventory of campsites, roads, trails and any wildlife you come across. Free. RSVP by visiting www.cfc.umt.edu/wi or by calling 243-5361.

click to enlarge CHAD HARDER

Or you can scratch that itch to finally go the distance when you join Run Wild Missoula's Beginner Runner Training Class, an eight-week running program for beginners (or those who've been out of the game for awhile) that begins at 8:15 AM on Sat., Aug. 21, at Runner's Edge, 325 N. Higgins Ave. It meets each and every Saturday morning, as well as each and every Thursday at noon, up until early October. As for the program, it begins with running/walking intervals, and culminates in your completion of the Pumpkin Run 5k on Oct. 16. $50/$25 Run Wild Missoula Members. Visit runwildmissoula.org to register.

If your running legs are already toned to perfection, then skip the training class and consider heading up north for the 23rd annual Big Mountain Run, which begins at 9:15 AM on Sat., Aug. 21, at the Danny on Trail at the Whitefish Mountain Resort. Essentially, this is a climbing race that takes you up 2,200 vertical feet, in 3.8 miles, in order to reach the summit of Big Mountain. Those of you with dogs can also bring Fido along for the race, but just make sure your furry friend is leashed. $20 family/$10 per person/$5 children age 16 and under, with pre-registration due Thu., Aug. 19 and day-of registration running from 8–8:45 AM. Call Robin at 862-8121.

You could also gain some running wisdom on Sat., Aug. 21, by taking a trip to Wisdom during the Run the Big Hole, a 5k and 10k walk/run that begins at 10 AM at the American Legion Park in the town. Once your soles hit the road, you'll run on the Lower North Fork Road and finish at Fetty's Bar and Café, with a free beer to satiate the taste buds of pre-registered runners. $25 day-of registration from 8–9 AM/$20 pre-registered, with pre-registration due Thu., Aug. 19. Visit bigholevalley.com/Run_The_Big_Hole.html to register online.

Go ahead and howl at the moon on Tue., Aug. 24, but first take a trip down to Fort Owen State Park in Stevensville so you can catch the Bitterroot National Forest's 2010 Moon Walk Interpretative Series presentation by Salish elder Frances Vanderburg titled "Salish History in the Bitterroot," which begins at 7 PM at the park, off Fort Owen Ranch Road. Free. Call 375-2606.

Then on Wed., Aug. 25, run fast like Forrest Gump with a barley soda on your mind when Run Wild Missoula presents its Missoula Beer Run, a five-mile run that begins at a local watering hole and ends with a brew (or non-alcoholic beverage) with your running comrades and starts at 6 PM at Bayern Brewing, 1507 Montana St. Free for Run Wild Missoula members/Cost TBA for all others. Visit runwildmissoula.org.

Learn how to spread some native seeds on Thu., Aug. 26, when the Montana Natural History Center presents a Native Seed Collection Workshop, which runs from 5:30–7:30 PM at the Nature Adventure Teaching Garden at Fort Missoula. Once there, you'll learn how to collect native grass and wildflower seeds, as well as how to propagate shrubs with root cuttings. $3 donation suggested. Call 327-0405.

Before I leave you, I want to let you know about an upcoming hiking/climbing fest you won't want to miss. It's the Rocky Mountaineers' sixth annual Glacier Classic, a weekend filled to the boot with an array of climbs and hikes that runs from Fri., Aug. 27–Sun., Aug. 29. It includes a seven-mile scramble/climb up Mount Gould on Saturday, as well as an eight-mile hike up to the Scalplock Mountain Fire Lookout on Sunday, which, according to the Mountaineers' website, includes some breathtaking views of Mount St. Nicholas, Elk Mountain and Salvage Mountain. It's also free from what I can tell, but I'm sure these masters of mountain ascension will want you to chip in for group camping at Glacier's Apgar Campground. If you planto go, RSVP first with Forest Dean by calling him at 240-7612 or by e-mailing him at mtnear1@gmail.com. Also, visit rockymountaineers.com for a detailed description of planned hikes.

Until next time, may the wind be at your back and the force be in your pedals.

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