Mountain High 

It certainly was a great week to be outside in the city, wasn’t it?

I mean, I can’t remember the last time I’ve strolled down to the California Street Pedestrian Bridge at 8 PM to find the railings packed with onlookers all facing east in a scene akin to a nature ceremony.

Of course, we were all focusing intently upon the smoldering wall of flame tickling its way across Missoula’s iconic landmass, but still, it was a moment of civic cohesion nonetheless. There was something for everyone: heavy machinery for the youngsters, indubitable evidence of the power of the elements for the Ed Abbeys among us, the notion of rebirth by fire for the pagans, and so on.

And while the book will certainly be tossed at whomever is deemed responsible for igniting the yellow pages that lead to the blaze, here’s hoping that it’s at least a light book, or if it’s got to be heavy, that it’s tossed in a gentle manner. The lesson’s no doubt been learned already, the smoldering evidence stands as a harsh reminder whenever they venture from their homes and the fact is, our townsfolk were brought together in collective appreciation and wonder by the sight of that burning hillside.

Considering the difficulty Americans face in prying our rotundities off the couch and away from the screen, it could almost be argued that these little fire imps took a step toward combating our national obesity epidemic. But such an argument would invite nothing but heat from the pyrophobic, so I’ll stop just short of “going there.”

Instead, I’ll encourage you to pack your things, take a week off from your job—or just tell your trust fund manager to hold this week’s check—and join the Rocky Mountaineers for a nine-day climbing trip to Wyoming’s Wind River Range, which leaves on Fri., July 18. They plan to linger in the Titcomb Basin—I never imagined I’d get to print that word—and there’s no maximum trip size, so call Joshua pronto at 543-0898.

Less free and more altruistic woodspeople can volunteer to map and monitor campsites and weed outbreaks in the Gospel Hump Wilderness beginning Fri., July 18. Experienced guides will take volunteers on four different weekend monitoring trips this summer, so contact the Wilderness Institute at 243-5361.

Bump the cycling stakes up a notch when you fall in with Missoulians on Bicycles, who leave town after work on Fri., July 18, for the Full Moon Glacier Ride. Watch the shoulders, and the nearby 500-foot ditches, as you pedal the Going-To-The-Sun Road under the serene illumination of solar rays bouncing off green cheese. Call Wayne at 721-3095.

Here’s another reminder that the Great Burn Study Group runs monitoring trips for volunteers most weekends this summer, so go ahead and join them Sat., July 19 for an overnight saunter in the vicinity of Idaho’s Fish Lake. Call Beverly at 240-9901.

If you didn’t get enough running last weekend, you’ve got another shot at the glory—or just the charley horse—when the next installment of the Five Valleys Challenge Series presents the Rattlesnake 5K Fun Run/Walk at Rattlesnake Elementary at 9:30 AM on Sat., July 19. You’re too late to officially register, but hey, it’s Missoula. Call 721-PARK.

Eschew excessive exercise when you gather for Saturday Discovery Day: Butterflies and Birds at 10 AM on Sat., July 19, at the Montana Natural History Center. You’ll journey with Charles Miller to the Rattlesnake’s PEAS Farm, where all manner of winged critters eagerly await inspection. $15/$10 members. Call 327-0405.
W
hat’s with all this moon worship, anyway? Well, it continues unfettered as the Bitterroot National Forest presents the Monthly Moonwalk “CCC Moon” at 7 PM on Sat., July 19, on the north shore of Lake Como. Celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Civilian Conservation Corps under the light of the full moon. And call 375-2606 with questions.

Those crazy waterbugs at Paddle MT offer yet another watersports option with the Open Water Kayaking trip on Flathead Lake, beginning at 10 AM on Sun., July 20. You need to have solid knowledge of sea kayaking skills—like wet exits, tee hee hee—and sign up quick, as this one’s popular. Call 251-0040.

Keep it wet as the Federation of Fly Fishers opens the 43rd annual International Fly Fishing Show and Conclave in Whitefish on Tue., July 22. The shebang runs through Sat., July 26, takes place primarily at Whitefish High School and includes casting competitions, programs for women and youth and all kinds of fishy frivolity. Call 222-9369 or visit federationconclave.org.

And speaking of friskiness, it’s time for another Adult Night at Splash Montana at 7:30 PM on Wed., July 23, where you can engage in the water volleyball challenge, go bobbing for bikini tops or behave in any of the myriad manners precluded by the presence of prepubescents. Call 721-PARK.

Lastly, those danged Rocky Mountaineers have another trip up their sleeve: On Thu., July 24, depart on a three-day trek into the Scapegoat Wilderness on the North Fork of the Blackfoot River. The plan is to set up a base camp, explore a bunch from there and then return home on Sun. Call Julie at 543-6508.

Now, while I may have seemed “down” with high-angle suburban brushfires, you’re in no way to take this as a green light for more phonebook Flambé, capiche? Anyway, isn’t your Wii
calling?
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