Mountain High 

By now you should have heard about the Bigfork Whitewater Festival this weekend on the Swan River. But don’t forget about another northwest Montana water race. It’s Libby’s annual Duck Race. The event features 600 plastic ducks let loose in Flower Creek, all vying for the prestigious title of fastest duck, a label that will earn its owner $1,000. The race consists of six heats; if your duck comes in first or second it can compete in the finals. The event draws out-of-towners and locals alike to check out Libby’s merchants and vendors, and to root on the ducks. The event starts at Rosauers in Libby on Thursday, June 3 at 5:30 p.m. Ducks are still available. To buy a duck, or for more information, call 239-4167.

Native American sports enthusiasts, hope you’ve been practicing shinney, doubleball and lacrosse. On June 25–27 Great Falls will host a competition of Native American traditional games. Beside the traditional foot games mentioned above, participants will try their hands at numerous horse races, including the nightshirt race, slowest horse race and hoop and staff race. In addition, there will be bow-and-arrow shooting and atlatl casting. Distance runners are encouraged to run in the June 27 Native American half-marathon, which starts at 9 a.m. near the Morony Dam. All other events start at 10 a.m. at the Great Falls Expo Park fairgrounds. Registration is $50 per person. For more information, call 268-7340.

Speaking of marathons, one of Western Montana’s most renowned races is this weekend in Helena. On Saturday, June 5, compete in the 31st annual Governor’s Cup, and put those months of training to the test. Or just come and watch people applying vaseline to their bodies’ most frictional areas, then suck wind for fun. All jokes aside, the race is sure to feature the region’s most prominent and disciplined runners. The race kicks off at 7 a.m. in Marysville, then heads downhill into Helena, where it reaches a terminus downtown. For more information, check out the race website at

Also on June 5, the Montana Conservation Corps will celebrate National Trails Day by relocating a section of the Blue Mountain Lookout Trail that burned in 2003. For those prepared for a full day of work outside, meet at the MCC office at 103 Hickory St. at 10 a.m. The crew will return to the office at 3:30 p.m. for pizza and sandwiches. Call 728-2720 for more information.

Women on Water and Glacier Sea Kayaking are teaming up to teach a sea kayaking course on Flathead Lake near Rollins on June 4. All ages are welcome and the $120 cost includes equipment, guides, instruction and lunch. For more information, or to sign up, call 862-9010.

Summer sparks a sense of adventure in recreationists who have huddled through winter snows and spring rains. It’s the season to run amuck across the continent relatively unencumbered by weather constraints. But to get some places, you have to fly, and some things you just can’t take with you anymore. The Transportation Security Administration has launched a national awareness campaign on how to travel without getting stuck (in line) by the man. If you’re on a recreation vacation, baseball bats, bows and arrows, golf clubs, hockey sticks, hunting and scuba knives, martial arts devices, pool cues, ski poles and spear guns must be checked as baggage. The TSA also goes on to list some no-brainer no-no’s, like: no blasting caps, dynamite, fireworks, hand grenades and plastic explosives. A couple of former gray area items like white fuel for cook stoves and strike-anywhere matches have also been added to the no way, no time list. Don’t worry, though, you can still pack cattle prods, hatchets, crowbars, drills, saws, billy clubs, throwing stars and nanchakus in your check-in baggage.

All young aspiring naturalists between the ages of 7 and 11 should check out the June 14–18 camp at Fort Missoula. Called Bats to Bears, the camp aims to teach youngsters the variations and adaptations that make mammals special. The camp is under the auspices of the Montana Natural History Center and costs $135 for members and $185 for non-members. Class size is limited to 14 students. To register, call 327-0405.

Ready to head into the mountains? On Sunday the New Rocky Mountaineers will trade their skis for hiking boots and tackle 9,033’ Little Saint Joe Peak southwest of Florence. The road to the trailhead should be open, creating a 3,000’ climb along four miles. Expect snow in places. For more information, call Gerald Olbu at 549-4769. The New Rockies will also be hosting a potluck at Jennie Ban der Weide’s home. Call Jennie at 829-0771 if you plan to attend.

Meanwhile the Rocky Mountaineers intend to scramble the 7,262’ Pilot Knob near Lolo Pass. Perhaps the New Rockies and the Rockies will be able to signal to each other with mirrors. Flowers should be blooming along this three-and-a-half mile trail. For more information, call Lois Crepeau at 728-5321.

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