Mountain High 

For everyone who treads on the third stone from the sun, we recognize yet another fruitful trip around the sun on our fair planet, with the 34th Earth Day. The event, created by former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson in 1970, was founded to bring environmental concerns onto the political field.

“Earth Day worked because of the spontaneous response at the grassroots level,” Nelson says. “We had neither the time nor resources to organize 20 million demonstrators and the thousands of schools and local communities that participated. That was the remarkable thing about Earth Day. It organized itself.”

Gaylord’s work to get the ball rolling started in 1995, when President Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

This year, Earth Day will have a big showing on the UM campus, with events occurring throughout the day. From 10 a.m. until noon, a panel discussion entitled Sustainable Food Futures for Montana takes place in either the UC Theater or UC Room 329. Noon to 1 p.m. will feature a slate of programs on the Library Mall including singer Amy Martin, Freecycle’s mobile bike checkout display, a report to UM President Dennison and a Greening UM Award presentation. Afternoon events include tours of the UM recycling facility, storm drain stenciling and an event called Chalk It Up, where people are encouraged to draw their vision for the Earth on the Oval.

Need something a bit more competitive to celebrate Earth Day, while still participating in civic duty? Check out the Ecopentathalon on Saturday, April 24. Ecopentatheles ride their bikes to various restoration, clean-up and farming activities: the Clark Fork river cleanup, a highway cleanup near Arthur Avenue, prairie restoration on Mount Sentinel, a recycle Dumpster dive, the opportunity to build a bike at the Festival of Cycles in Bonner Park and the option to plant fruit trees at the PEAS Farm on Duncan Drive in the Rattlesnake. You don’t have to be a hard-core jock or environmental zealot to compete in a couple of these. To become an ecopentathlete contact Vicki Watson at 243-5153, or visit a full schedule of the events at

Also on Earth Day, the Festival of Cycles will be freewheeling along in Bonner Park from noon to 4 p.m.; bring spare bike parts and mechanic ability, or cash in on other people’s parts and talents. They also have live music and a chill scene, so bring your spring date. Also, don’t forget to observe BikeBusWalk Week; it launches on Earth Day.

Though we’re in spring and looking toward summer it’s time to celebrate our winter athletes, now that they’ve rested up a bit. On April 24, the town of Lincoln will rally around “Montana’s Great 8,” the eight dogsled mushers from Montana who participated in this year’s 1,100-mile Alaska Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Celebrations begin at the Historic Community Hall at 2 p.m. The event will allow you to get close enough to four-time World Champion Doug Swingley to inspect what frostbite has done to his corneas. It is said that visitors from 11 states and 44 Montana towns have attended in the past.

If you’re up in Kalispell, don’t miss a community college class entitled “Sea Kayaking the Montana Way.” The class will be held at the Summit pool on Tuesday, April 27, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Though Montana is far from the sea, this class covers why the sea kayak is a perfect craft to tour the state. Material covered will include what a sea kayak is, how to pack one, beginning and advanced strokes, capsize recoveries, safety precautions and power paddling tips. For more information, contact the course instructor Bobby Gilmore at 862-9010.

Feel like you need a peak in your life? Check out the New Rocky Mountaineers ski and snowshoe trip up to East Saint Mary’s Peak on Saturday, April 24. Located in the Mission Mountains, just south of Saint Ignatius, the trip will be challenging with 5,400 feet of elevation gain. Upon hitting treeline, participants can anticipate heavy winds and, if clear, spectacular views of the southern Missions, including the massive west face of Gray Wolf. For more information, contact Gerald Olbu at 549-4769.

The Rocky Mountaineers will also be out in the field in conjunction with the Sierra Club on April 24. Destination is the Lolo Trail near Lolo Hot Springs. The stretch will be gradual and suitable for children ages 8 and older. The primary activity, besides walking, will be flower hunting. Pasque flowers, buttercups and glacier lilies could be blooming. Forest Service officials will be on hand to explain history and restoration efforts along the trail. Afterwards folks will head to the springs for a soak. For more information, contact Julie Warner at 543-6508.

On Saturday, look out for the 32nd annual Riverbank Run. It features the usual 10K, 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run. But for any uber-athletes out there who are quick like a bunny, there is the Tri-Fecta (a running of all three races). First race of the day, the 10K starts at 9 a.m. The 5K starts at 10:30 a.m., and the 1-mile starts at 11:30 a.m. There is also a new starting location, Broadway and Higgins. For more information, call 721-9622.

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