Mountain High 

We’re at another teetering point here, my people. The early surge of winter has been beaten back again by fall’s adamant insurgency, and the fate of cold weather sportsters remains uncertain. Will the democracy of gnar-gnar pow-pow again visit these noble lands? Or will the continuing terror of crinkly brown grass plague our eyes until the first cool rains of spring?

For now, it’s anybody’s guess, and all my nambly-pambly conjecture is enough to inspire your standard old timer to roll their eyes and exhale in a most condescending manner: “Times was, we just got to work and waited for whatever weather came rollin’ over us. Now all you East/West Coast liberal Interwebbers can’t bike to the coffee shop without your GPS and a five-day forecast…”  

All right, all right. I’ll do my best to let go, but if you find your meteorological anxiety reaching a fever pitch, I’ve got an event that should offer just the right kind of relief: Spread your seed—actually, it’s somebody else’s seed—on Mount Sentinel when you sign up to help reintroduce native plant species to the charred hillside. This volunteer project doesn’t take place until Sat., Nov. 8, so I’ll give you another heads-up in next week’s column, but you’re asked to go ahead and sign up by e-mailing or by calling 493-6634.

And before we get to the rest of the week’s events, let me remind you that the hills are crawling with blood-thirsty killers with itchy trigger fingers, so for the next few weeks, you should go out in the woods dressed like a pumpkin, whether it’s Halloween or not.

And speaking of animals as fetish objects, where would we be in these cold climates without the love and shelter provided by the lowly sheep? Yes, lovers o’ the old-school fleece, it’s time once again to get down on bended knees and praise all that’s ovine when the Western Montana Sheep Growers Association holds their annual meeting on Sat., Nov. 1, from 9:30 AM–3 PM at the Lolo Community Center. In addition to a great chance to meet local sheep and wool producers, shearers and mill owners, you’ll enjoy a tasty lamb lunch and listen to folks opine heartily about the supremacy of their flock. It’s free, and you can call 258-4210 for more info.

Maybe a trick-or-treating jaunt satisfies a week’s requirement of outdoor exploration for you, but such is not the case for the hearty souls of the Five Valleys Audubon Society. On Sat., Nov. 1, you’re beckoned to meet at 10 AM at the Maclay Flats parking lot for some early winter birding with your host, Virginia Vincent. The two-mile walk takes you down by the river, through grasslands, marshes and forested areas, so come prepared and call 327-1525 with any burning queries.

The term “multi-use” is a significant lightning rod in our day and age, so I’m not exactly sure as to the tenor of this meeting, but here goes: If you’re interested in multi-use trails in the area, attend a meeting of the Jocko Valley Trails Committee at 10 AM at Arlee’s Hangin Art Gallery and Coffee House on Sat., Nov. 1. If you’d like more insight into the group’s ulterior motives, call 726-5550.

You’ve probably noticed a distinct lack of spooky and/or ghastly events here, as this is meant to be an outdoor recreation rundown. I must break that Halloween silence to tell you about the Halloween Party at the Rock Creek Lodge, which begins at noon on Sat., Nov. 1. This one stands out because of two words: Pumpkin Chunkin’. Whether you bring your own homegrown projectile or buy one there, this is your chance to blast the poor gourd toward some distant target—hopefully an old car, or maybe the Indy’s computer network—in the hopes of taking the amassed cash pot for your missile’s accuracy. The party goes on with apple bobbing, a costume contest and the normal stuff, but for me, it’s all about the flying fruit. Call 825-4868.

The remainder of the weekend’s pretty well tied up in skeleton costumes and dead relative honoring, so I leave you to find your own adventures in the wilds around town for a few days or so, until we arrive back in reality on Super Tuesday, Nov. 4. Of course, you’ll have done your part in the election charade by casting your vote in each important race. Then, when the tension and anxiety again reach that stressful twang, the ladies among you are invited to join the Dirt Girls at 5:45 PM on Tue., Nov. 4, for a hike starting at the base of the “M” trail in the UM campus. The aim’s to take on a nice quick hike that still leaves you with plenty of time to fret and fritter away your evening in front of the media dissemination vehicle of your choice. Visit

Once the ballots are all tallied and our (f)rightful leader is announced, perhaps you’ll need nothing more than to escape to the slopes. Well, we’ll need a little snow first, but in the meantime, you can learn about waxing your ride and sharpening its edges when the UM Outdoor Program presents a free Snowboard Maintenance Class at 6 PM on Wed., Nov. 5. You’re asked to register by Mon., Nov. 3, so call 243-5179.

And from my perch here on this side of yon electoral abyss, I wish actual clear skies, healthy forests and clean water upon us all under the next administration.
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