Mountain High 

Words are significant things. They are alive. They grow and change as they age. They have personality and history. Words can mislead and misdirect. You know this if you've been to Plentywood, Mont. There is no wood there. None. Unless you count broken down cottonwood trees and knotted shelterbelts, which are more weed-like than tree-like. The Turtle Mountains in North Dakota remind one of a turtle, but share little in common with mountains (the nearby College of Forestry seems like a stretch, as well). But imagine trying to change the names of these places. It would be an impossible task. Let's call Plentywood "Kindahillyfortheareaanddecentinthefallwhenitspheasanthuntingseasonland." Let's call the Turtle Mountains the "Turtle Hills." Watch as the saddened vacation home owners from Fargo find out their houses are worth half as much as they paid for them.

Words, too, tell our story. Particularly words on maps. Jack Puckett plans to tell that part of the story at the Discover History Through Storytelling program at Traveler's Rest State Park. His talk, Origin of Place Names Given by Lewis & Clark, explains the place names the duo gave to various geographic features from the Yellowstone River, up Lolo Pass and down into the Lochsa side of the world in Idaho. With 32 years of experience as a USFS Ranger in western Montana and Northern Idaho, Puckett is uniquely qualified to share his knowledge.

The Discover History Through Storytelling program Origin of Place Names Given by Lewis and Clark, is led by Jack Puckett, retired USFS Ranger, on Sat., Jan. 28 at 11 AM and lasts until noon. The program takes place at Traveler's Rest State Park, one-half mile west of Lolo on Hwy. 12. $4/Free to those 18 and under. For more info., go to travelersrest.org or call Vivica at 542-5518.

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THURSDAY JANUARY 26

Just in time to really gnarmageddon it, the Montana Backcountry Alliance and Montana Wilderness Association host the shreddy-shreddy Backcountry Ski Film Festival to get your stoke on. Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave. 7 PM. $10.

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.

FRIDAY JANUARY 27

Hey little archers and aspiring archers, Bowhunter Certification Courses will be held Sat., Jan. 23, and Sat., Feb. 11, from 8:30 AM–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 28

Join the Critterman, Denny Olson, at the Winter Birds of Prey course offered by the Glacier Institute. After meeting at FVCC, the group will seek out raptors, owls and then some. $65. Call for more info. 755-1211.

I suppose everybody's heard about the birds that are here for the winter, but if you'd like to see them, too, join the Flathead Audubon Society Lower Valley Field Trip, where snowy owls, raptors and other birds are here to be heard and seen. Meet at the Somers Park 'n' Ride at 8 AM. Call Bob evenings to sign-up: 837-4467.

Shake off the icicles and jog off them beers and cheese logs during the Frost Fever 5K Run/Walk. The run begins at McCormick Park and cruises the Clark Fork. Register sooner than later to avoid the late fees. Race time 10 AM. missoulaparks.org.

Do it like the wapiti do and join the Montana Wilderness Association on a Winter Wilderness Walk called Elk in Winter. The walk begins at the Rattlesnake Trailhead and explores the elks' winter range. Three miles long but conditions could require a bit of effort due to snow conditions. Call Bert to reserve your spot: 542-7645.

Head up to Seeley and learn about the benefits of forest reforestation during Montana Wilderness Association's Winter Wilderness Walk at Colt Summit. Hikers walk Colt Creek Rd., which will soon be removed to benefit Bull Trout. The hike is considered easy to moderate. Meet at Rovero's Gas Station/Ace Hardware in Seeley Lake. 10 AM. Free. Call Gabriel to reserve your spot: 541-8615.

Found out what a lolo is when retired USFS Ranger Jack Puckett tells us the Origin of Place Names Given By Lewis and Clark at Traveler's Rest State Park. 1/2 mile west of Lolo on Hwy. 12. 11–12 PM. $4/Kids free.

Lone Pine State Park's Kid's Snow Stomper Program called Making the Journey describes the hows and whys of animal migration to kids ages 4–7. Did I mention they get to make an elk, too? Sweet. 300 Lone Pine Rd. Kalispell. 11–12 PM. $3.

Join a ranger from Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell for a Winter Discovery Snow Shoe Hike. BYOSS or rent a set from the park for $5. Familes with kids 10 and up welcome. 1–2 PM. Call Mary Beth at 755-2706 ext. 2.

MONDAY JANUARY 30

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 FEBRUARY 2

The folks at the Montana Natural History Center teach the young 'uns how to observe and connect with nature at the miniNaturalists Pre-K Program, for ages 2–5. 120 Hickory St. 10–11 AM. $3/$1 members.

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.

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