Mountain High 

I’ve never really been good with goodbyes, especially ones that come at the end of a casual friendship embraced a little lopsidedly on my part. That’s why this weekend I’ll simply give Snowbowl an awkward man-hug, an eyes-averted dude nod and then choke out my most apathetic voice for an “A’right, later,” when I pack up my snowboard, take one last sip of a Bloody Mary and bid the season farewell. That’s right: Sun., April 13, marks the end of an especially decent winter on our local hill, and the good folks on the mountain are commemorating the date with a free barbeque. I’d say more, reminisce even, but it’s getting a little dusty behind my goggles, so I think it’s best to just move on.

Perhaps the best way to push forward is by keeping the rest of this installment strictly to business—and make a quick transition to something spring-y. Like birds.

Beginning Thu., April 10, the Five Valleys Audubon Society will offer its annual workshop for intermediate birders with the first of three classroom sessions. Then, starting Sat., April 12, the class takes a field trip to the, well, field to put their knowledge to the test. Space is limited, so call John Bremer at 541-9494 to sign up.

Veteran birders probably expected this, but the Five Valleys workshop includes a lecture on raptors by Steve Hoffman, executive director of Montana Audubon. If you can’t make the workshop, though, don’t fret, as Hoffman is making the rounds this week. On Mon., April 14, he’ll make a presentation on the Important Bird Area Program—an international effort to identify and conserve specific regions for vulnerable species—on the University of Montana campus. It’s free, so fly down to Room L14 of the Gallagher Business Building.

What else feels like spring?

For one, me loves me some wildflowers. On Thu., April 10, the Clark Fork chapter of the Montana Native Plant Society refreshes your memory on which wildflowers are which with a 7:30 p.m. slide show. Put on your thinking caps and bring a No. 2 pencil to Room L14 at the Gallagher Business Building. (Just kidding about the pencil—there’s no test that we know of.)

Goats don’t necessarily have the same sweet spring ring as birds and flowers, but that’s cool—I’ll embrace the ruminant mammal nonetheless at Mohammad Ayaz Khan’s cross-cultural lecture on the conservation efforts of the markhor. Not familiar with the markhor? The Wildlife Biology masters candidate answers all your questions about the high-elevation Pakistani creature Wed., April 16, at the Montana Natural History Center, 120 Hickory Street, at 7 p.m. Donations requested. 

And if we’re going to talk goats, we should probably mention our own beloved bison. Check out a releasing of the buffalo spirits ceremony in Gardiner at noon Tue., April 15. Led by Arvol Looking Horse, a 19th generation keeper of the white buffalo calf pipe, it should be pretty cool—and gives you a chance to take part in things after reading this week’s cover story.

But back to spring stuff. Missoulians on Bicycles (MOB) offers two chances to get out and ride this weekend. The Mule Train to Ninemile Remount spans 55 miles—five of which are gravel—and offers the chance to eat lunch at the Ninemile Steakhouse. If you’re game, meet at the Perkins on N. Reserve Street at 9 a.m. Sat., April 12, or call Phil at 728-8262 for more info.

The next day’s trip is a momentous anniversary: the 24th Annual Potomac Awful Burger Ride. Must be something about red meat with MOB. Anyway, the hungry crew leaves from the Eastgate parking lot at 10 a.m. Call Paul for more info at 240-0056.

If running is more your thing than biking, make sure to register for the Kim Williams 5K run by Mon., April 14, at UM’s campus rec front desk. The run itself—open to the general public, as well as students—will be held Thu., April 17 at 12:15 p.m. Registration costs $15, or $18 on the day of the race.

If not recreating by bike or by foot, I have one last option for you: climb, baby, climb. The Rocky Mountaineers are ascending Trapper Peak—the largest peak in the Bitterroots at just more than 10,000 feet—on Sat., April 12. Call Alden at 243-4790 or 542-1966 for more info, but here’s some vital tidbits: The vertical climb will be about 5,000 feet and skis and skins—or even snowshoes or snowboards—should be brought along. The good news is there’s no avalanche danger and the ski down is considered intermediate.

Wait…the ski down? Ah, hell. We’re back where we started, thinking about the end at Snowbowl again. I’m okay, promise. No, really, I’ll be fine. Just give me a minute.
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