Mountain High 

While some feel the jury’s still out on the matter, quite a sizable number of people agree that humans bear a striking genetic resemblance to this planet’s simian inhabitants.

The reason I raise this issue in Mountain High is that Sun., Dec. 14, is officially known as Monkey Day in heretic circles around the globe. A day set aside for the celebration of our furry little relatives—actually, humans are more closely related to apes, but hey, I wasn’t in charge of naming the holiday—Monkey Day observations can include hosting a simian-themed party, grooming your friends and relatives, tossing feces at passers-by (legal note: Flinging poo isn’t quite legal in most areas) and the like.

Monkey Day’s Lansing, Mich., founders intend to give something back to our cousins on the other side of the double helix with a benefit art show and auction for nonprofit wildlife sanctuary Chimps Inc. Of course, it takes place, inconveniently for us, in Lansing. Which is not to say that such an event couldn’t be hastily coordinated here in Zootown, but the organization will have to take place outside the parameters of this column.

In the meantime, you can learn more about this latest international phenomenon when you visit 

Turning our focus to the local, and the less mobile, we cast our benevolent gaze upon the vibrant flora of our abundant region. The Clark Fork chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society, whose informative lectures and slideshows frequently figure prominently herein, host their annual Christmas potluck at 6:30 PM on Thu., Dec. 11, at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts. You’re requested to bring your own utensils, as well as a few of your favorite slides or digital photos from the past year’s plant-based adventures to share. Call 728-8740 or 258-5439.

The younger set has an opportunity to delve deeply into the natural world when the Bitterroot’s Clearwater Farm offers another Saturday Art and Science class at 9 AM on Sat., Dec. 13. The impromptu science learning center, located roughly six miles east of Stevensville, offers classes based upon the mind-melting imagery of M.C. Escher, as well as a varied program of science experiments. $15 per class. Call 370-0808.

The next few offerings have crystallized around a theme we’re all quite eager to experience this “winter,” that being snowfall. As the saying goes, “Take time to be safe,” which is why UM’s Outdoor Program offers another transceiver clinic at 9 AM on Sat., Dec. 13. Learn ways to notify others as to the whereabouts of your frost-buried body before it’s too late. There’s a little $15 charge for the class, which covers your instruction and handy beacons, so it’ll be money well-spent. Call 243-5172 to register.

Next on the list of “ways to prepare for the massive snowfall that’s surely right around the corner” is an avalanche training day with Minot Maser and the Rocky Mountaineers up at Lolo Pass on Sat., Dec. 13. At press time, details were still a bit sketchy, what with all the lack of snow and all, so you’re advised to check their website for updates:

There’s one group in town that apparently has no fear of being buried alive beneath thousands of pounds of soft fluff, and they want you to venture forth with them this weekend. The Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory St., offers a six-hour jaunt with naturalist Jesse Sherburne starting at 9 AM on Sat., Dec. 13, an event bearing the title Winter Ecology on Snowshoes. You’ll be glad you brought plenty of water and a nice hearty lunch as you struggle to keep pace with that famously long Sherburne gait, while its perpetrator describes the marvels of the wintertime tapestry. Free. Call 327-0405 to register, and also to request to borrow a pair of MNHC snowshoes.    

While I’ve the wrong type of chromosomes to join them in their pursuits, I was nonetheless fortunate enough to learn something from our incredible Montana Dirt Girls this week. The Screw Shoe—which has nothing to do with late night booty calls—is an easily constructed traction device for wintertime hiking. Basically, you take sheet metal screws and drive them into your soles, and for an in-depth description of the process, dig on this: Then, you’ll be ready to join the Dirt Girls when they meet for their next hike at 5:45 PM at the corner of Maurice and South avenues for a close-to-full moon hike up Mount Sentinel. Get more info at 

Just in case you thought avalanche danger stopped at the Missoula County line, I’ll have you know that snow comes rumbling down slopes just about anywhere. It just has to fall from the sky first. In order to safeguard the hearty recreationists of the northern stretches of the Indy’s readership, the Seeley Lake Driftriders host a free avalanche safety talk with Dudley Improta at 7 PM on Thu., Dec. 18, at the Seeley Lake Community Center. Call 677-7777 or 243-4078.

Well, that ought to take care of you for another week. Shred on.
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