Mountain High 

My favorite part of any thriller flick is when the protagonists realize there’s a leak, a double agent, a rotten apple, and decide to take action. It usually involves some elaborate trap that the rat falls for and we get to watch terror dawn on their soul as they’re mercilessly gunned down by former confidantes.

It’s what we in the business call “internal housekeeping.”

So, as the Indy say “Adios” to our editor and 10-gallon Texan Brad Tyer—not with a bullet, but with a beer—it becomes obvious that we’re not the only people in town who are cleaning shop.

As leaves everywhere prepare for “the big one”—that gust that will send them into the Great Beyond—a number of events this week remind us that there’s dust in the corners, flies in the kitchen and editors in the basement to be dealt with. I begin:

From the tender days of elementary school, Americans are raised with one fact embedded deep within their psyches, right next to the words to the “Star-Spangled Banner”: Public Lands Day is Sept. 29. And the first clue as to the culture of wackiness that pervades Missoula Parks and Recreation is that this year, they celebrate everyone’s favorite true-blue holiday one week early. On Sat., Sept. 22, you’re kindly encouraged to jump in on a city park service project around town at 9:30 AM. From Mount Jumbo to Jacob’s Island to the Moon-Randolph Homestead, there’s a clean-up task for every taste, so point your browser to, click on the “National Public Lands Day” banner on the right and get ready to beautify. Of course, you can also call 552-6271.

If cleaning up around town doesn’t suit your fancy, get away for a bit while still retaining that OCD edge that sets you apart. The Rocky Mountaineers gather on Sat., Sept. 22, for their annual cabin work party—take a surreptitious look inside the elite unit’s secret sylvan hideout while you wrangle dust heifers—which is to be followed by a 3 PM-ish potluck and booze-up at the trailhead to the cabin. You can meet at 9 AM at the K-Mart parking lot for carpools, and you’ll want to bring water, snacks and gloves. Call Steve at 721-3790 or Forest at 240-7612.

You know what they say about Rocky Mountaineers: They don’t make ‘em like the used to. The New Rocky Mountaineers provide substantiation for that time-honored adage as they eschew cleaning in favor of recreating. On Sat., Sept. 22, why not take them up on their offer to guide you up 7,800-foot North Jocko Peak? The route is described as “pretty relaxed,” and may well function as a scouting exercise for an upcoming camping trip this winter, so stay tuned. If you’re interested in this 14-mile jaunt to the east of Arlee, give Gerald a call at 549-4769.

Getting back to cleaning, you may be surprised to learn that in areas of great natural beauty, some people choose to celebrate Gaia’s gifts by littering the area with broken glass, shot-up television sets and used condoms. On Sat., Sept. 22, the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto of the National Speleological Society wants you, and all interested parties—that’s parties, not partiers—to attend the inaugural Grotto Cleanup Trip to Garrity Cave near Anaconda. You’ll camp at the cave Sat. night and get to cleaning the next morning. Bring a big trash bag, nylon brushes and water-filled spray bottles, as well as your helmet and vertical gear for the initial plunge, and call 546-1234.

The only thing clean about these people is the fact that they recreate moistly: Paddle MT and the Canoe Rack host the final Wednesday Night Float of the season at 6 PM on Wed., Sept. 26. If you’ve been meaning to join the posse for this relaxed meander through town, you’d better jump on the bus or yours shall be a long season of discontent. Call 251-0040.

It may seem a bit early for spooks and haints to be knocking around these parts, but some people start selling Halloween candy around Labor Day, so again, it would appear that all bets are off. The good people of the Bitterroot National Forest warn you to beware the ghosts of Blodgett Trail’s past during the Monthly Moonwalk, titled “100 Years Under the Blodgett Moon,” at 7 PM on Wed., Sept. 26. National Forest Historian Mary Williams will recount the history of the trail and show guests a thing or two about early White life in the Bitterroot Valley. Get to the Blodgett Canyon Campground for the full story, and again, look out for ghosts. And call Julie at 375-2606.

Finally, REI comes through with another in their series of outdoors clinics. On Thu., Sept. 27, climbing expert Dan Wickes presents “Rock Climbing: How to Get Started,” at 7 PM at the store, which resides at 2230 N. Reserve St. The last time I made a snide comment about an outdoor store holding classes indoors, they surprised me by forwarding a photo of the class, which took place under the sunny sky. You may have won this round, REI, but I’ll be back. Oh, and call 829-0432 with questions.   

Aside from all that, nothing much is happening outside that you can’t catch on YouTube. Drop me a link if you find anything good.
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