Mountain High 

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the Missoula Valley celebrates its waterways with the River City Roots Festival, a daylong downtown event that, oddly enough, doesn’t seem to include any river-oriented events. Fortunately, there’s always something going on and several organizations have stepped into the breach to laud the moving water.

The Montana Natural History Center sponsors its eighth annual RiverFest event from 11 AM to 4 PM on Saturday, Sept. 16. The free event also marks the closing day of a traveling exhibit, Inspirations from the Forest, that brings art, reflection and sylvan culture together.

If that sounds a little too heady for you, the Canoe Rack invites you to join their Poker Paddle from East Missoula’s Sha-Ron FAS to McCormick Park on that same Saturday, Sept. 16. This event, which aims to actually get you on the water, includes a race component, a trash cleanup component and a poker component. The last of those plays out as participants pick up a card at each of five checkpoints, hoping to build a hand that boosts their timed finishing position. Somewhere in there, trash will be collected too and a prize awarded—a good one, no less—for picking up the most. Get to the put-in by 11 AM and call 251-0040 for more information.

Speaking of water, Missoula is getting some fancy new bikes courtesy of Dasani, the bottled water branch of the Coca-Cola corporation. Seems as though they’ve teamed up with Trek to equip Missoula with 20 Cruiser Classic bikes that are sure to bear some resemblance to a rolling billboard. Regardless, anyone can check out the bikes and ride them on the bike trail system during the hours McCormick Park is open. Sure, it’s shameless corporate cross-promotion. It still seems like a good idea. To disagree with me or just find out more about how to get a ride on a bike, call 721-PARK.

I’ve already got a couple bikes myself but probably would settle for a seat on the bus if that bus was the one on which the Glacial Lake Missoula Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute is taking the “High Tide in Montana: Missoula to Flathead Lake” field trip, a daylong excursion to interpret Western Montana’s fascinating hydrological history. The trip, which includes food, transportation and beverages in its $75 nonmember price tag, doesn’t depart until Saturday, Sept. 30, but you’ll need to call 370-5987 before Saturday, Sept. 16, to get in on the tour.

The forest around here is a little bit younger than the old lakebed, but somebody has still been marking time with trees in this area. Therefore, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, you should step out your door and hug a tree, because that day is the 100th birthday of the Lolo National Forest, according to said Forest’s administrators. Sure, the tree you pick might not actually be part of the Forest, but hey, it’s probably related.

And the Lolo National Forest is not just trees; there’s water in them thar hills as well, including a wide swath of terrain in the Upper Lolo Creek watershed that’s being restored to lessen the impact of past logging activity on the streams. If you’re curious to see how the work is being done and by whom, there’s a tour of the Upper Lolo Creek Watershed Restoration project planned for Thursday, Sept. 21, from 9:30 AM to 3 PM. If you’re interested in the orientation, which is free and open to the public, call 542-7445.

And if all this jabber about the Lolo makes you want to head somewhere else, turn to the Beaverhead for recreation with the New Rocky Mountaineers, who head up the east face of Warren Peak on Saturday, Sept. 16. After about five miles of gentle climbing, you’ll spend the rest of the ascent pulling yourself up a 45-degree wall of solid rock with lots of good holds, nothing too extreme but certainly something that will make you feel as though you’ve gotten a little mountain higher in your free time. Call 549-4760 to participate.

Finally, cavers, get your heads out of that hole in the ground and get hitched up with the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto of the National Speleological Society during their 7 PM meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St. in Missoula. For those whose throats don’t just close up at the thought of being confined underground in passages too narrow to turn around in, Michael McEachern presents a program of stereo slides called “Caves in 3-D” that you’re sure to enjoy. Call 303-842-7415 if you’re going to miss the show but are anxious to get underground, because the group has trips planned as well.

Let me know how the weather is down there.

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