Mountain High 

As the winds start to whip up and the temperature plummets, our visual landscape begins to blur. Leaves hide the boundary between yard and street, snow drapes a fresh set of linens over the neglected dog turds of summer. In these days, there often forms a fog in the memory as well. “Is that my Thighmaster, or did I borrow it from across the street?” This collective veer toward cottonheadedness is the kind of thing that got the Hatfields and McCoys in trouble.

Shakespeare wrote, “neither a borrower nor lender be,” which I would amend and update to read, “don’t steal things from Free Cycles.” The sad news is that two anchors of their fleet of freaky bikes have been absconded within recent days, right before their scheduled appearances in the Day of the Dead procession. One is a massive, green, four-wheeled contraption that has been a frequent public spectacle. The other is a green “long john,” a bike with a cargo platform up front and a steering linkage to control the front wheel. We are all asked to shake aside our early winter sloth and try to recall whether we inadvertently “borrowed” these famous wheels. Call 541-PATH if you have a hot lead.

Before the imminent snow covers the hills and hollows under the stewardship of Missoula Parks and Recreation, they urge you to attend a vegetation management tour of Mount Jumbo on Sat., Nov. 4, at 10 AM. The department implements a combination of weed management approaches, from sheep-grazing and hand-pulling to biocontrols and herbicides, including everyone’s fave for leaching into groundwater, Dow AgroScience’s Tordon® K. Conservation Lands Manager David Claman leads the free walking tour and discussion of noxious weed control and fire fuel management. Meet at the Saddle Trail trailhead, which is at the end of Lincoln Hills Drive. Call 721-PARK.

Take refuge from airborne picloram at the November meeting of the Rocky Mountaineers at Pipestone Mountaineering on Wed., Nov. 8, at 7 PM. After announcements about upcoming trips and other outdoor pleasure-related business, noted alpinist Joe Josephson presents a slide show and talk titled “Some Kind of Monster” about his expeditions to Mount Logan, Canada, and his ascent of the longest ice climb in North America. That portion of the evening begins at 7:30 and The Western Montana Avalanche Foundation will rake in the proceeds from the admission charge of $7/$5 with student ID.

Some say biking through the woods at night is insane. Those same people probably think mailing your ear to the object of your passion is crazy, too. The organizers of the Starry Night Rides hope you’ll bring your crazed energy to the trail. You’ll want ear warmers, gloves, booties and a lighting system. Two rides are scheduled this week: on Thur., Nov 2, meet at 6 PM at the Lincoln Hills Parking Area in the Rattlesnake for the Sidewinder ride, and on Mon., Nov. 6, meet at 6 PM at the Blue Mountain Recreation Area for that eve’s ride. Go to

Insanity is nothing new in these parts. In August 1877, five bands of Nez Perce Indians were resisting government attempts to confine them to a small reservation in Idaho when they were attacked by the 7th U.S. Infantry and civilian volunteers. The resulting slaughter is commemorated at the U.S. Park Service’s Big Hole National Battlefield near Wisdom, where a field of lodgepoles marks the scene of the massacre. The Big Hole Battlefield’s winter hours begin on Mon., Nov. 6, and the center, which houses a museum, introductory video theater, viewing deck and book sales area, will remain open seven days a week from 10 AM to 5 PM. Call 689-3155.

On the flipside of preserving old things, we’ve got the pending removal of a local old thing. The Watershed Education Network (WEN) has kicked-off their Milltown Dam Education Project with presentations and field trips with elementary and middle schoolers around town. Their program gives students background on the dam and its removal, site remediation and related redevelopment issues. Plus, some sort of exercise involving cookie-eating will help keeps the focus. WEN is looking for volunteers to help with Steam Monitoring field trips with Sentinel High students on Thu. and Fri., Nov. 9 & 10. Give Sheena a ring at 541-WATR if you like cookies and free-flowing rivers.

There may be a distinct lack of cookies at the Five Valleys Audubon Society’s half-day field trip to Maclay Flat on Sat., Nov. 4, but they promise to more than make up for it in woodpeckers, red crossbills, nuthatches, bald eagles and pygmy owls. Virginia Vincent leads the mellow two-mile loop trail walk, which starts at 10 AM at the Maclay Flat parking lot. And you can still offer to bake cookies for the throngs when you call her at 549-5632.

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