Mountain High 

Praise Achelous, the Clark Fork River is open again. As of last Friday, Aug. 12, the 20-mile stretch of river from Petty Creek to Tarkio is available for recreating once again. Be aware that helicopters may still be drawing water from the river, so pay attention for fire personnel stationed on the shore advising boaters about fire suppression activity.

Alberton Gorge is really one of the Missoula area’s treasures. If you’ve never been through the Gorge, you ought to take your first trip with someone who has. One chance to do just that is a UM Campus Rec trip taking place Tuesday, Aug. 23. If that day doesn’t work for you, call 243-5172 to find out about other planned trips coming up. You could also just ask around town, since every fourth person in Missoula has a raft they’re just itching to use.

Feel like hiking and not floating? That makes one of us anyway. Here are your options:

Local naturalist Will Kerling leads a hike to Carlton Lake at the base of Lolo Peak on Saturday, Aug. 20. Carpools to the trailhead leave from the K-Mart parking lot at 9 AM. The Friends of Lolo Peak-sponsored hike, which takes about two hours each way and requires lunch, water and appropriate clothing, is free of charge; however, donations and membership applications will be gladly accepted. Call 549-6036 for info.

If you’ve got the whole weekend to get away, the Rocky Mountaineers are heading up to Glacier National Park Friday, Aug. 19, through Sunday, Aug. 21, for a weekend of exploring. They’ll be camping at Blankenship Bridge and then enjoying a variety of hiking and fishing options from there. Call 721-6384 for more info.

The Glacier Institute’s tireless teachers are at it again in the same stretch of woods. Chuck Jonkel leads “Glacier’s Grizzlies: An In-Depth Look” Saturday, Aug. 20, through Monday, Aug. 22, which offers participants moderate hikes during twilight hours to search for griz in their natural habitat. No, that’s not the parking lot of Washington Stadium but the North Fork, Two Medicine and Many Glacier Valleys.

If you’re something of a neophyte to the backcountry, there’s also a “Wilderness Skills: Safe and Smart in the Woods” class on Thursday, Aug. 25, that can introduce ages 6 and up to the basics of navigation, shelter and nourishment in the wildlands. Contact the Glacier Institute at 755-1211.

The Park itself is getting further in to the learning business by hiring an education specialist, Laura Lew, who’ll be hosting a free workshop for K-12 teachers Aug. 23 from 9 AM to 3:30 PM in the Apgar area of the Park. With Lew on staff, there will be many more opportunities for teachers to organize field trips. So cancel that annual trip to the cardboard box manufacturing plant and get those kids up to Glacier for some learning they’ll talk about when they get home. Call 888-7942.

Glacier is just one of Western Montana’s wildland gems. The Bob Marshall Foundation concerns itself with an adjacent treasure: the Bob Marshall Wilderness. As part of their ongoing efforts to maintain that area, BMF will be sending volunteers to work along the Continental Divide Trail in the northern Scapegoat Wilderness from Saturday, Aug. 20, through Sunday, Aug 28. The 8-day excursion will be an occasion for working on log retaining walls and drainage maintenance from Straight Creek Pass to Green Fork Cabin. There are also rumblings about campsite rehab at the Black Bear and Shaw Area campsites from Saturday, Aug. 20, to Tuesday, Aug. 23, and Thursday, Aug 25, to Sunday, Aug. 28, respectively. Call 863-5411 for info.

Or take a shorter trip to the trailhead when UM’s Wilderness Institute sponsors one more monitoring trip into the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness from Friday, Aug. 19, through Sunday, Aug. 21. Base camp for this trip will be at Little Johnson Lake, up the Middle Fork of Rock Creek. Transportation from Missoula and dinner each night are provided. Call 243-5361 for info.

If it’s the velo that gets you moving, there are two local options. Sunday, Aug. 21, there’s a Criterium Bike Race from 8 AM to noon at Fort Missoula. If you’re interested in spectating, head down and cheer on the cyclists while they whiz across the finish line. Call 544-0221 for more info.

Alternately, if you’re a pedal power commuter or trail rider who wants to get a little grease on the hands, check out REI bike tech Kevin Thompson’s “Basics of Bike Maintenance” clinic at the Missoula coop, 2230 N. Reserve St., at 7 PM on Wednesday, Aug. 24. Call 829-0432.

My own ride into town has been kinda chilly lately. Slowly, I’m remembering that summer is just one season in Montana. So, while I love a cool morning, it’s also a push to get out and enjoy the heat before it fades. Are you concocting plans for autumn or just spending the summer dawdling like the fabled grasshopper? Let me know.

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