Mountain High 

The Garden City is blooming back into beauty, and gray skies yield to the fragrance of trees loaded with purple blossoms. White spring snow is something to behold against the backdrop of a blue sky. This is, after all, why we live here: Nothing beats a Northern Rockies spring. It’s the perfect time for all-season recreation. As nights become shorter, awake at dawn, bag a peak, ski down, take your kayak to the river, surf a hole, then pull out your fly rod and battle a few thick-shouldered trout. Folf discs once again spin around the hills, while mountain bikers huck nearby cliffs. The bees have returned, suckling nectar from flowers, and grouse drum, looking for feathered lovers. It’s spring, folks. Enjoy.

It’s also the season of employment. Feast or famine, it’s the Montana way. Soon the masses will ascend from the other states of this union, toting their wads of city cash and a hunger for adventure. Guides from all walks of the outdoor world reunite under this banner of influx capital and tell tales of lean seasons. Like the elk and deer, they are happy to have made it through another winter. Hats off to the ladies and gentlemen in the field, and let their games begin.

Speaking of guides, the Second Annual Middle Fork Guides Interpretive Trip is set to launch on June 1. Touted as a trip for “old salts looking to share their knowledge” and “trainees trying to learn about the Middle Fork,” it’s a high-water trip on one of the West’s most rugged wilderness rivers. Last year’s featured lectures on archeology, human history, geology, botany and wildlife biology. This year the organizers are still looking for a geologist, fire ecologist and an outdoor first-aid specialist. Interesting specialties like flint-knapping, edible local plants, Native American traditions and cowboy poetry are also welcome. If interested, contact Jeffe Aronson at 1-800-652-3246.

Ice-climbing season isn’t over for the Alpine Club of Missoula. The club is holding an Alpine Climbing Level 1 Class on Saturday, May 1, to teach people the nuts and bolts of climbing on moderate-angled snow and ice. Participants will work on balance and footwork with crampons, the use of an ice axe, including boot-axe belay, self arrest and the arrest of a partner. While the course will not fully prepare students for glacier travel, an advanced class on crevasse rescue is scheduled for June 26 or 27. Cost for the climbing class is $15 for non-members and free for members. Call Luke Casady at 777-0190 to sign up for the class and coordinate a rendezvous point.

The Rocky Mountaineers have a Sunday, May 2, ski and snowshoe trip planned for the Bass Creek Crags, located immediately south of Bass Creek in the Bitterroot. The route up the 8,411-foot spires will be mostly off trail, following a heavily forested east ridge. Toward the top there could be some scrambling. Overall elevation gain will be 4,800 feet over the course of four miles. For more information, call Gerald Olbu at 549-4769.

Be the first visitors of the season to stay the night at McDonald Lodge during the First Annual Spring for Glacier fundraising event on Friday, May 28. Proceeds will benefit The Glacier Fund, the Glacier Institute, Glacier Natural History Association and the Glacier National Park Associates. Events begin at the historic Belton Hotel in West Glacier at 5 p.m. with cocktails, tours of the hotel and musical entertainment. Then a red bus will take guests into the park to the Lake McDonald Lodge. Expect a slide show and musical events, followed by Native drumming and dancers. Boat tours will be available, and unique items will be sold in both silent and regular auctions. Special rates will be available to guests who wish to spend the night in either the Lodge or the Belton. Tickets are limited and the cost is $150 per person, $250 for couples. Call 892-2525 for more information.

Bow hunter education is on target once again. Classes begin Monday, May 3, and Monday, May 10, with students expected to attend either class for three days in a row. The two classes will combine for a required field course on Thursday evening, May 13, at Blue Mountain. Classes are limited to 30 students on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no pre-registration. All first-time hunters are required to complete the course before they can purchase an archery license in Montana. There is no fee for the course. Class will be held from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at Fish, Wildlife & Parks located at 3201 Spurgin Road.

Finally, for those interested in the drilling controversy on the Rocky Mountain Front, the Bureau of Land Management is holding an open house on Wednesday, May 5, at the South Ballroom of the University Center from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.

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