Mountain High 

I'm told the conditions for this weekend's Blackfoot River Challenge are quite good. If trends continue, participants should expect a swiftly moving body of water filled with rocks, but not too many rocks, and at a temperature like bath water. (It's no kind of bath that I would run, but surely someone somewhere would enjoy a soak that feels like the Blackfoot.) This is an event for all those maniacs I see flipping around in their kayaks like fishing bobbers under the Higgins Avenue Bridge. When I blindly report back to you that the river is expected to fall somewhere between 2,500 and 3,500 cfs, you, unlike me, might know what I'm talking about. The Blackfoot River Challenge consists of a downriver race, a slalom course open to canoes, kayaks and SUPs, and clinics on how to excel at said events. More than that, participants are slaloming to benefit for the Missoula Food Bank, so bringing non-perishable food items to donate would be a very nice thing to do.

The 3rd Annual Blackfoot River Challenge will take place over three days, beginning Fri. July 22–24. Events include a slalom clinic on Fri. at 6 PM, a Sat. race at 11 AM and so much more. The event is $10, or $5 with a food donation. Proceeds benefit the Missoula Food Bank. You'll want to bring all your own equipment. For directions and more details, visit blackfootriverchallenge.blogspot.com.

click to enlarge CHAD HARDER

THURSDAY JULY 21

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Rock Climbing and Rappelling with City Life community Center at The Heap at Lolo Pass. It's technical. You'll be harnessed and belayed, ages 13-18, $15 for members only, 7:30 AM–6 PM, Register at 1515 Fairview Ave. or citylifemt.com. Call 532-1558.

Don't even bother trying to control yourself, because Wild Theater Thursdays are back at the Roxy Theater, which features a different award winning wildlife film every Thu. at 10:30 AM, now through Aug. 18. Tickets are $3. See wildlifefilms.org/showing.html.

FRIDAY JULY 22

Now's your chance to learn about a sampling of research initiatives in the Peace Park, but fun. The Waterton-Glacier Science and History Day is at the Lake McDonald Lodge Auditorium in Glacier National Park from 8:30 AM–4:30 PM, Free. Call 888-5827.

An Evening at the North Avenue Youth Farm is like an open house, but on a farm. Seriously, I don't know how you'd understand things without me. Hang out, eat food and see what's growing from 5–7 PM, 2824 W. Central Ave. RSVP at 550-3663.

SATURDAY JULY 23

Buy fishing boats, tools, gardening stuff and other garage sale-like items to benefit RAMP of Montana, beginning 7 AM at the Plumbers Union parking lot, 1026 South 5th St. W. Call 243-7692 to donate itesm.

Get your hands dirty and improve the winter Elk habitat by taking part in this service outing for the Sawmill Gulch Restoration Project. Dress to not impress so much as work hard, 8 AM at the main Rattlesnake trailhead. Free coffee and muffins and done around 12:30 PM. Contact Bert at 542-7645.

Might as well jump during the Skydive Lost Prairie 44th annual Jump Meet, which is reportedly the largest gathering of skydivers in the Northwest and attracts 400-500 jumpers for a week of skydiving fun, and offers the public a chance to strap in for some tandem skydiving with an instructor. Freefall to skydivelostpraire.com.

Let your spokes roll through steep technical climbs and descents that alternate between single track, double track and dirt road sections during The Missoula XC, an amateur and professional mountain bike race on Marshall Mountain that features a 6 km loop course and is the USA Cycling Pro XCT Finals race. Grease your gears at missoulaxc.org.

SUNDAY JULY 24

Get high on more than endorphins during the fourth annual Madison Marathon near Ennis, which is reportedly "the highest road marathon in the USA" and features a full and half-marathon that begins at 9,160 feet, peaks at over 9,600 feet, and finishes off at 8,550 feet, all on gravel roads in the Gravelly Range. Lace up at themadisonmarathon.com.

Break several sweats during the XTERRA Wild Horse Creek triathlon, which occurs in the Hyalite Canyon near Bozeman and features a 1200-yard swim, 16-mile mountain bike ride and 6-mile run. Participants can also opt for a less strenuous shorter course. Size up at bigskytri.com.

MONDAY JULY 25

This easy hike up the Fred Burr Reservoir in the Bitterroot Mountains follows Fred Burr Creek to the reservoir with wildflowers along the way. The hike is 9 miles round trip, 1000 feet elevation gain and lunch along the way. Limited to 15 persons. Contact May Owens at mowens320@gmail.com.

WEDNESDAY JULY 27

In my experience, teens love salmon, lakes and hotdogs, so why not send yours to a day of fun at Salmon Lake with City Life Community Center, with activities like a fire roast, tubing, water skiing (brisk!) and more, ages 13–18 only, 7:30 AM to 7 PM, $40/$30 for members. Register at citylifemt.com or call 532-1558.

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