Mountain High 

Every winter the same chorus of whiners squeak and grouse about the snow and the ice and the cold. These people hate the magical pow-pow, yet they continue to live here. I blame their yearly prayers for the warmer weather and their tears for the fog, for the freezing rain and for the sunny, 48-degree days. In sum, I blame them for my lack of riding and the mud (!!!) on my kitchen floor in January. Tell you what though, I bet even the most ardent wintertime crybaby must be disgusted by our recent weather patterns. But you know what? They haven't stolen away all our winter fun. The folks running the 5th Annual Darby Dog Days don't give a toot about summer right now, and they are hosting two days of wintertime amusement, with sled dog races, skijoring and plenty of fun for the wee ones, too.

The event takes place on Gibbons Pass Road, near Lost Trail Pass, and has cash purses for eight-dog teams and shorter races for four-dog teams, as well. Novices and youngsters are encouraged to participate. Those ages 4 to 12 without a dog team can participate in the 100-yard race, just to get a taste of winter and the power of them hounds. Don't worry lovers of winter wonder lands, Gibbons Pass is plenty high (6,945 ft.) so the temps and snow depths ought to allow for a good time, nay, a great time this weekend. For you sunworshippers, a couple airlines offer ONE-WAY tickets to Mesa, Arizona for the paltry sum of $99.

The 5th Annual Darby Dog Days takes place at the Gibbons Pass Snowmobile Parking Lot, near Lost Trail Pass, on Sat., Jan. 14, and Sun., Jan. 15, beginning at 9:30 AM. Call Nicki at 369-0707 to learn more, or go to bitterrootmushers.org.

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THURSDAY JANUARY 12

You'll be climbing up a wall at Freestone Climbing Center's Ladies Night each Thursday. 935 Toole Ave. 5–10 PM. $6.50/$5 students.

Learn what the FWP has in mind for the '12 and '13 hunting seasons. Seeley Lake Community Center. 6:30 PM.

FRIDAY JANUARY 13

Hey little archers and aspiring archers, Bowhunter Certification Courses will be held Sat., Jan. 23, and Sat., Feb. 11, from 8:30–5:30 PM. The field course for both will be Sun., Feb. 12, from 1–4 PM. 3201 Spurgin Rd. Register by following the education links at fwp.mt.gov.

Active outdoor lovers are invited to the Mountain Sports Club's (formerly the Flathead Valley Over the Hill Gang) weekly meeting to talk about being awesome, past glories and upcoming activities. Swan River Inn. 6–8 PM. Free.

SATURDAY JANUARY 14

Ski or shoe and see wuzzup in Glacier Park, birdlovers, by attending the Flathead Audubon Society's Winter Outing. Meet at Apgar Visitor Center. 9 AM. Call Steve for more info. at 892-7406.

The Bitterroot Mushers are doing it doggystyle at the 5th Annual Darby Dog Derby this weekend, with skijoring, sprints, long distance races and kids' races. Head to Gibbon's Pass snowmobile parking lot at Lost Trial Pass. 9 AM. To enter or for more info, go to bitterrootmushers.org.

The Montana Wilderness Association wants you to hike along during its Lubrecht Forest Winter Wilderness Walk. This mellow hike is about five miles long with little elevation gain and plenty of spiffy things to eyeball. Pack a lunch and some water. RSVP by calling Myrtle or Eugene at 926-1930.

Lone Pine State Park offers kids 4-7 years old the chance to become a snow scientists and make a melted snowman during its Snow Stompers Program. 200 Lone Pine Rd. 11–12 PM. $3.

REI has been collecting gear for Project Homeless Connect, a group which provides medical and dental care and so much more to homeless folks in the area. Today REI hosts an Open House with Project Homeless Connect and Open AID Alliance and invites the community to attend, drop-off used gear or discuss how to get involved. 3275 N. Reserve St., Ste. K-2. 12–2 PM.

Well the skiing has been okay, so the partying must be off the chain. Big Sky Resort hosts the SnoBall, featuring a bar made of snow, glowsticks and DJ action. What year is it down there? $5. bigskyresort.com

SUNDAY JANUARY 15

The Bitterroot Mushers are doing it doggystyle at the 5th Annual Darby Dog Derby this weekend, with skijoring, sprints, long distance races and kids' races. Head to Gibbon's Pass snowmobile parking lot at Lost Trial Pass. 9 AM. To enter or for more info, go to bitterrootmushers.org.

MONDAY JANUARY 16

At Slacker Mondays, from 6 PM until close, slackline fans can come to Freestone Climbing Center at 935 Toole Ave. to test their balance. $13/$10 for students. Visit freestoneclimbing.com.

THURSDAY JANUARY 19

Help the littlest one cultivate a positive connection to nature and the outdoors at the miniNaturalists Pre-K Program, hosted by the Montana Natural History Center. This month's theme is Winter Birds. Best for ages 2-5. 120 Hickory St. 10–11 AM. $3 for non-members/$1.

You'll be climbing up a wall at Freestone Climbing Center's Ladies Night each Thursday. 935 Toole Ave. 5–10 PM. $6.50/$5 students.

Come hear what FWP has in mind for the 2012-2013 hunting season, or go ahead and comment on what you have in mind for that time period. Potomac Community Center. 6:30 PM.

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