Mountain High 

Man, I love this time of year. The air gets crisp and the nights get downright cold. Sure, it means I have to remember to throw some gloves in my pockets before I head out in the morning so my fingers don’t freeze to the handlebars. But every day that I don’t break out in a sweat from just going about my daily business is another day that I don’t have to do laundry. Good for me; good for the earth.

While we’re talking about the earth, here are some ways to enjoy it and all the ancillary activities that go with being lucky enough to live on it.

Get started at 8 PM Friday, Sept. 30, by priming your prayers for snow when the Wilma Theatre screens Hit List, the latest Matchstick Productions ski flick. Judging from the previews, even a knuckledragger like me is bound to love it.

As for actually getting outside this week, let’s start with The New Rocky Mountaineers, who are biting off another chunk of vertical Saturday, Oct. 1, with a climb up Holland Peak in the Swan Range. Expect 4,800 feet of elevation change and some exciting exposure over a 1,000-foot headwall if you tag along for this one. Call 549-4769 to sign on.

If you’d rather climb less and work more, consider joining The Glacier Institute when it hosts a fall Work Weekend Volunteer Party Saturday, Oct. 1. They’ll be cleaning and painting as well as doing some tree cutting and planting at the Big Creek Outdoor Education Center, located 20 minutes from West Glacier along the North Fork of the Flathead River. Give a call to 755-1211.

If something a bit more mild is closer to your idea of fun, head up to the Rattlesnake Wilderness for a hike that’s taking place as part of the 25th Anniversary of its designation as wilderness. You’ll learn about the settlement history of the Rattlesnake drainage during this hike, led by Daniel Comer, which starts at 10 AM on Saturday, Oct. 1, from the main Rattlesnake trailhead. Call 329-3814 for info.

Enjoying the outdoors on foot is just one way to get out there, though. Of course, riding a bike is great way to get outside and breathe some mountain air, whether it’s just casual transportation or a more demanding tour.

Speaking of demanding tours, be sure to keep up the pedaling in preparation for Saturday, Oct. 8, the day of Tour de Montana. The ride, which winds along 130 miles of back roads on the way to Butte, aims to raise funds to get bike tools to folks in the Gulf Coast region who might need some transportation—given recent events, the more sustainable the better. Call 880-6834 if you’re interested in pedaling or pledging support for those who are.

Surely, one fine way to get everything in order for the climb to Butte is by climbing up Pattee Canyon during the Western Montana Hill Climb Championships, taking place the morning of Saturday, Oct. 2. If you want to enter, register for the climb between 5 and 6 PM on Friday or between 7:30 and 9 AM Saturday. And, if you’re planning to enjoy some disc golf on Saturday morning, check out the scenic access to the Pattee course by way of Deer Creek Road in East Missoula.

The air may be getting chilly but the water’s still fine. One of your last chances to enjoy it might be Sunday, Oct. 2, when the Rocky Mountaineers are planning a canoe trip on the Clearwater River. So, if you want some paddling pals, give a call to 728-4793.

If you’d like to get some instruction in the Fundamentals of Whitewater Kayaking, there’s a class coming up that begins Tuesday, Oct. 4, and continues on Tuesday and Thursday evenings through Thursday, Oct. 20, that can help you perfect your flatwater roll and other techniques you’ll need before strapping yourself into a tiny plastic boat and braving the whitewater. Call 243-5172.

And, if something goes wrong on the river—or anywhere, for that matter—you’ll want to do something more than just stand around wishing for a satellite phone. Aerie Backcountry Medicine can help you prepare with a Wilderness First Aid course Saturday, Oct. 1, and Sunday, Oct. 2, on the UM Campus. The 16-hour class combines classroom lectures with practical scenarios and includes an optional CPR class Friday, Sept. 30, from 5 to 9 PM. Call 542-9972 for details.

Finally, if you just want some poultry but don’t want to hit the supermarket, get together with the Big Sky Upland Bird Association when it meets at 7:30 PM on Wednesday, Oct. 5, at FWP Headquarters, 3201 Spurgin Road. Many members have reportedly been out searching for birds since the beginning of September, so you can come down, share what you know and glean some knowledge from others about what’s going on with grouse, partridge and pheasants. Call 327-9939 for info.

And, hey, why not drop me a line to let me know how it’s going, or at least what’s going on.

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