Mountain High 

Historically, golf opportunities have not been included in this column. This isn’t because massive irrigation efforts required to green-up the links means less water for native fish populations. Nor is it because the artificially lush monoculture-fairways receive massive dumps of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, effectively booting out native plants and animals and altering delicate balances of nitrates in rivers and other water sources into which they inevitably run.

No, the reason golf hasn’t been included in this column is that it lacks real risk, takes place in reputedly snooty environs, is cost-prohibitive to many of our readers and often involves Sherpas to carry your stuff.

But lo, the exception that makes the rule: Golfers looking to combine the joy of accurately whacking a small dimpled ball great distances within the context of a not-watered-down and rustic Montana setting can head to Lost Trail/Powder Mountain on July 24 for The Second Annual Mountain Golf Tournament. This nine-hole adventure course includes a 500-yard launcher right down the south face of Western Montana’s powder paradise. Marked with flags to assist golfers through doglegs and over-the-hill shots, the course contains no pars, has no out-of-bounds, and the entire mountain can be more or less considered a hazard.

And speaking of hazards, the press release notes that “Any disputes between players and the regular mountain occupants (bears) should be settled as quickly and quietly as possible!” The tournament is restricted to nine teams, hiking boots are recommended, and teams are encouraged to bring along a non-paying, non-playing spotter to help prevent lost balls. Putters and golf bags are not allowed, and golfers should bring a large number of extra balls. Barbeque and beverages are provided, so rally your team of five players (plus spotter), get your $65/player lined up, and call Diane at the Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce (363-2400) to get teed up.

Runner types should run-not-walk to Saint Ignatius for the Buffalo Run, a one-mile, four-mile, seven-mile or half-marathon on July 24. These “mostly flat” races start as early as 7 a.m., so get y’arse on up to the Flathead early. Registration is $20 ($8 without the commemorative shirt), so call Maggie at 528-5321 to get the run on.

Montana FWP’s highly successful summer program series continues this week with Fort Owen Living History Days, a free peek at how Montana’s pioneers lived in the 1800s. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 24, enthusiasts will dress in “traditional pioneering clothing” and demonstrate ancient techniques in tomahawk tossing, black powder shooting, beadwork, hide tanning and Dutch oven cooking. To get to the action, head south on Highway 93 to the Stevi Wye, take a left (east) on 269 and look for the park on the left. For more information, contact FWP’s Jay Slocum at 542-5533.

Missoula’s swimmers, waders and water lovers should dive on in to the All Aquatics Facilities Public Open House on July 27 to help design the new water facilities approved through last year’s referendum. This public meeting takes place from 6:30–9 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, but call 258-3752 for more info.

Young naturists can learn about the predator/prey interaction of Montana’s plant and animal communities at the Nature Center’s week-long Summer Science Day Camps July 26–30. There’s an emphasis on carnivorous plants, and participants will build their own “Plant of Prey” terrarium to take home. Call youth program coordinator Matt Erickson (327-0405) for more details.

Or join the Teen Adventure Camp July 26–30 to learn about Western Montana’s geology and ecology. Starting with a geology-centered hike in the Bitterroots and followed by a riparian-focused trip along waterways, the week culminates with a raft trip through Western Montana’s best stretch of summertime whitewater, the Alberton Gorge. The Adventure is open to kiddies age 13–17; call 327-0405 or log on to to learn more and register.

The Sierra Club and the Rocky Mountaineers will team up on July 25 for a family-suitable jaunt up a restored section of the Howard Creek trail, a “Lewis and Clark-were-here!” pathway near Lolo Hot Springs. No confirmation yet, but a Forest Service egghead might tag along to fill in the group on the trail’s historical significance. Call Julie Warner at 543-6508 or Bob Clark at 549-1142 to participate.

Confucius say: Exhaust the body to relax the mind. If that’s true, gung-ho hikers can count on a high level of post-trip relaxation if they join the New Rocky Mountaineers for a July 25 summit bid on the venerable Gray Wolf Peak in the southern Mission Mountains. An ice axe, powerful lungs and a high comfort level with fourth-class exposure will greatly increase your chance of safely reaching this 9,000’-plus summit. Pick up a Flathead Reservation Tribal Recreation Permit, and then call Gerald Olbu at 549-4769 for more information.

Butterfly lovers can join Jim Brown (a different Jim Brown—the one who’s into butterflies) and the Five Valleys Audubon Society for a butterfly-watching trip (expect 20-plus species) up the Rattlesnake’s Spring Gulch on July 24. Participants are encouraged to lug along binoculars, water and snacks for this free, three-mile trip. All interested parties can meet at the main Rattlesnake trailhead at noon. For more information, call Jim Brown at 459-8052.

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