Mountain High 

So you’ve swamped your canoe in Brennan’s Wave a few times and now you’re pretty sure you’re ready for the wild and scenic rivers of Western Montana. Well, the 15th annual River Runoff Rendezvous, taking place Saturday, May 6, on Idaho’s Lochsa River, is probably as good a time as any to get some quality time on big water.

The main rendezvousing is set to music from Frame of Mind, who play the Lochsa Lodge at about 8 PM. But boaters will be in the water and running the river all day long. If you’ve never run the Lochsa, Lewis and Clark Trail Adventures offers an $89 special, but if you’ve got a boat and the skills—seriously, you’ve got to know what you’re doing out there—you can tag along with experts if you’re at the put-in and ready around 10:30 AM. Look for the blue bus and keep your head above water.

Speaking of living creatures and moving water, did you know there are ducks in Glacier that do the same thing salmon do—returning to the place where they entered the world in order to bring future generations into it? Well it turns out the Pacific harlequin does this and you’ll know that (as well as much more that I can’t pretend to know) if you head to a Glacier Institute class on Pacific harlequin ducks taking place Saturday, May 6, at McDonald Creek. And since these ducks aren’t affected by dams like their finned and distant relatives, there ought to be an awful lot of them.

Five Valleys Audubon members doubtless knew all about those ducks, because birding is just what they do. And they’ll do more of it on Saturday, May 6, when they take a trip to Brown’s Lake to spy waterfowl, early migrant birds and other descendents of the reptiles who once ruled the earth. Call 549-8052 for details on carpooling and other information you’ll need to join in.

Let’s switch classes, Aves to Mammalia, and see what’s up with bears. Well, it seems the bears are back from their really long winter’s nap and the Great Bear Foundation plans to honor the ursine with a weekend delving into scientific and traditional knowledge about them. The weekend starts in Missoula with a day that includes an ecology walk in the Rattlesnake followed by a series of lectures and a world premiere screening of Missoulian Matt Anderson’s film The Spirit Bear Project at 7 PM at Heritage Hall at Fort Missoula. Saturday and Sunday’s events both require some travel—on Saturday, to Pablo for a full day of programs at the Salish Kootenai College and, on Sunday, to Glacier for a day of encounters with biologists, Blackfeet leaders and Karelian bear dogs. For a fuller accounting of this extensive excursion, visit www.

Meanwhile, less extensive excursions abound.

For instance, the Sierra Club teams up with the Rocky Mountaineers for a Saturday, May 6, hike to commemorate the folly of Fort Fizzle. The outpost on Lolo Creek was constructed by the United States Army to cut off Nez Perce access to Lolo Pass, but the natives easily circumvented the fort, using a trail the groups sponsoring the hike plan to follow. There’s some scrambling at the beginning and end to get around the private land at both ends, but otherwise the day should be full of hiking on a ridge that’s clear of snow and perhaps some sustained chuckling at the silliness of thinking people can be easily outwitted on their own terrain. Call 721-4686 to learn from history and repeat it.

If something about that offends your political sensibilities, or you just feel like taking your life into your hands, the Rocky Mountaineers offer an alternative on Saturday, May 6: a snow climb up the north ridge of Mill Point West in the Bitterroots. It’s a trip, they promise, that features “sustained and unpleasant bushwhacking on very steep terrain.” So, you know, just another backcountry jaunt for the weak-kneed. Yeah, right. Know your limits and give a call to 721-3790 if you feel like testing them.

By the way, the Rocky Mountaineers don’t just hike; they also meet. And this month the Rocky Mountaineers meet at 7 PM on Wednesday, May 10, at Pipestone Mountaineering for a discussion of ancient and historical trails in the area, brought to you by Norman Jacobson.

While mountaineers hike (and meet), Missoulians on Bicycles keep on pedaling with two trips planned this weekend. On Saturday, May 6, the MOB rides to Painted Rocks Reservoir from Hamilton or Darby, and you can join them for either, depending on how many miles you feel like going. Call 728-8722 to be taken to their leader. If you’d rather crank out on Sunday…Sunday…Sunday, May 7, then you can roll on out to Alberton and back by calling 728-8657.

One last thing. The last thing anybody wants is to see someone’s pet caught in a trap set for a wild animal. But it happens during Montana’s several-months-long trapping season, and you might as well know how to free your pet; a little know-how about how to patch the critter up couldn’t hurt either. And so the folks at the Animal Ethics Coalition hold a free seminar from 1 to 3 PM on Saturday, May 6, at the Humane Society of Western Montana to get the word out about how to get your pets out of a bind that wasn’t meant for them. Call 549-6663 if you have any questions.

I take questions too, but prefer to have them e-mailed.

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