Mountain High 

Roads aren’t the only way to get from one place to another. Waterways have often acted—and in some parts of the country still do act—as America’s thoroughfares. Still, the importance of water as a serious medium for transportation has diminished lately, especially in the latter half of the last century as highways proliferated throughout the nation. But the fact remains that you can still get from there to here by way of water, even if we mostly think of such a thing as recreational activity. I point all this out simply because, for the second week in a row, water is the way the organizers of a cleanup activity want you to travel through a cleanup zone.

Last week it was the Blackfoot River’s turn to get some attention, a laudable exercise in removing the trash left behind by many a floater with just a little too great a sense of relaxed nonchalance. This week, Prairie Keepers—a group sworn to guard the sanctity of Western Montana’s native plants with their lives and honor, or at least their time and energy—plans to float the Bitterroot River, starting south of Hamilton at Angler’s Roost at 11 AM on Saturday, Aug. 5, on a mission to purge its shores of weeds. If you want in, call them quickly at 777-5842 because they’ll need to know you’re coming, especially if you need a ride, but mostly just so there’ll be enough barbecue to go around when the weeding is through.

Perhaps you can put the time you were going to spend fishing this weekend to a river health initiative like the one I just mentioned. You see, you’re going to have some fishing time to spare since, beginning Thursday, Aug. 3, the Blackfoot River and many of its tributaries will be closed to fishing at least part of the day. In the case of the Blackfoot, the closure will be from noon to midnight, while tributaries, including Gold Creek, will be closed 24 hours for the sake of bull trout. So you better pray for rain and cooler temperatures if you want to fish the afternoon again anytime before Sept. 15.

Of course by that time you’ll be thinking about hunting season, no doubt. Bow hunting will be underway and some early-season tags will already be in force. As the special permit lottery results began coming back this past week, how the season is shaping up is sure to be on more than one mind. Here’s something else to get you thinking about hunting: The Missoula Gun Show takes place Friday, Aug. 4, through Sunday, Aug. 6, at the Adams Center on the UM campus. Getting in costs $5 if you’re over 12 years old, which I suspect you are.

I took a look at a new book by Andrea and Doug Peacock called The Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears this past week. It’s a thoughtful and accessible but nuanced argument for the importance of wild animals to human understanding of our own rationality. What made me think of it just now is a story in there about someone hunting grizzly bears with a longbow. That’s just crazy. The book isn’t, though, so drop by one of the two readings of The Essential Grizzly planned in Western Montana next week—either Sunday, Aug. 6, at 7:30 PM at Chapter One Book Store, 225 Main St. in Hamilton, or Monday, Aug. 7, at 7 PM at Fact & Fiction, 220 N. Higgins Ave. in Missoula.

Should you need some contact with the outdoors more visceral than intellectual, I’ve got two options for you courtesy of the Rocky Mountaineers. Saturday, Aug. 5, a group plans a float through Tarkio Gorge, downriver from the more popular and crowded Alberton Gorge, concluding with a cookout near Lozeau; call 822-5000 to get on board. A contingent is also heading to Glacier National Park on Saturday, Aug. 5, for some car camping on Kintla Lake to be followed by a 5,000-foot three-mile scramble from the far shore of Kintla to the summit of Park Peak on Sunday, Aug. 6; call 721-3790 to join the trip.

If that trip sounds like it’s for the birds, maybe you belong with the Five Valleys Audubon Society, members of which plan to do some birding in Glacier from Friday, Aug. 4, to Sunday, Aug. 6. The original plan called for a stay at St. Mary’s, currently a little too close to fire for comfort; if conditions are still that way, they’ve got an alternative available. Call 549-5632 for the whole low-down.

The high temps and low moisture last weekend did such an effective job drying out everything that large portions of Western Montana are now on Stage 2 fire restrictions, which basically means it would be best for you to put your lighter away until the rain resumes. Feel free to visit for a less flippant definition of the conditions.

And, of course, let me know if I missed anything important.

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