Mountain High 

Last week, I stood on the marshy plain of my ancestral home, Washington, D.C., in a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, sweating in a slow and steady manner in the 85-degree, 80 percent-humidity weather.

Then I loaded myself up in a shiny aluminum tube and shot myself across the country—not before being poked, prodded and de-shoed by our attentive TSA personnel—to land here just in time for my favorite Montana tradition: the carbon harvest.

You see, establishing and maintaining a compost pile, one of the Comrade’s favorite rot-related activities, requires a nice mix of nitrogen-rich and carbon-rich material. I’ve got the nitrogen covered, thanks to a well-producing area horse, but the carbon can be a bit trickier.

Enter fall.

As I watch the leaves tumble from the sky, each one brings my carbon-jones that much closer to a fix. So here’s a great freestyle Mountain High activity for you all to engage in: Load up whatever leaves you’ve got laying around—pile them in your bike trailer, jam them into your sweatshirt, stuff them in your Big Sky Bistro—and bring them to the Indy offices here on Orange Street. I’ll take ‘em, all of ‘em. Just place them in the parking lot.

By the way, there’s no need to mention this to my editor. It’ll be our little secret.

So you know, I’m not the only guy in the valley looking for manna from heaven—a small and financially-unimportant subset of the general populace, whom for the sake of clarity we’ll call “snowsport enthusiasts,” are after some of their own as well. Join them in their efforts to persuade the Norse god Ullr to dump foot upon foot of the white fluff at Big Sky Brewery, where the Burning Dog/ Pray for Snow Festival sends forth plumes of homage starting at 5 PM on Thu., Oct. 18. For all the best in beer, prizes, ski and snowboard videos, flaming canine statuary and music from Reverend Slanky, this fundraiser for the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation is your ticket to ride, or glide, as it were. Call 243-4078.

Now before you tromp off to Expressway to set aflame the hounds of the night, consider this similar option: The Ninemile Wildlife Workgroup, a set of citizens committed to protecting local wildlife corridors, raises funds for themselves the only way they know how—with cake. Yes, at 6:30 PM on Thu., Oct. 18, get yourself and your rottenest sweet tooth to the historic Ninemile Ranger Station on Remount Road in the Ninemile Valley, where over 20 scrumptious cakes, and one scrumptious bluegrass band, give you reason to be thankful for the presence of wild things. Seat-of-the-pants it, or call 626-5675 to get even more info.

From snow to wildlife corridors to trout—hold on folks, we’re only just getting started. That same evening, Thu., Oct. 18, the Bitterroot Chapter of Trout Unlimited meets at 7 PM at the Hamilton Elk’s Club, 203 State St., only there’s a twist: Monte Dolack unveils his new print, “The Bitterroot River, Lost Horse Bend,” as a fundraiser for the group, and vicariously, for trout everywhere. Call 777-1449.

Talk about too much to do at once. At roughly the same time as the previous three events, Thu., Oct. 18, at 7 PM, you can increase your understanding of the uses and dangers—just kidding, Ryan—of Global Positioning Systems when the class “GPS 101” kicks off at REI Missoula, 2230 N. Reserve St. Bring your own GPS unit or use one of the store’s, and call 829-0432.

Moving on to the rest of the week, you’ll be happy to know that the perennial defenders of wildness in America—I’m talking about the Sierra Club, here—have a new Senior Regional Representative, Paul Shively, and they’re throwing a welcome party that can’t be beat. Get to the Parkside at the Wilma at 7 PM on Fri., Oct. 19, for all the snacks, beverages and hand-pumping you can stand.

And we head outside, to the roar and the din of Osprey Stadium, where on Sat., Oct. 20, a very different sport is set to command the field. If you’ve never seen a cyclocross race, imagine a bunch of guys on beefy touring bikes—or, if you prefer, lightweight mountain bikes—run each other ragged on a course that’s both wild and skiddy. The Rolling Thunder Cyclocross Race begins at 4 PM, and while registration has officially closed, consider this your chance to witness bike racing like you’ve never seen it before.

Bring the pulse back down, especially if you’re above the age of 55, as Currents Aquatics Center offers Senior Week from Mon., Oct. 22 though Fri., Oct. 26. Come take a free dip, ride the waterslide, make motorboat noises in the zero-depth entry pool—whatever floats your boat—as long as you were born during or before 1952. Call 721-PARK for info.

Last, as well as dirtiest, but certainly not least, Missoula’s Dirt Girls invite ladies of all stripes to meet for a bit of hard-core riding at the Lincoln Hills Trailhead at 5:30 PM on Tue., Oct. 23.

So until next week, may your own personal goldmine fall from the sky.
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