Mountain High 

A famous Southern California crossover artist once sang, “Baby, do you want to get high? Baby, do you want to get low?” After he overdosed on heroin and died too young, he lost the opportunity to do either, but that doesn’t mean you and I need to spend our time sitting shiva and missing out on all the elevation-related fun to be had this week.

While we can still draw inspiration from said superstar’s words (it’s Sublime’s Brad Nowell, for those dying of curiosity), we needn’t follow his example. Instead, we here in Western Montana would do well to reflect on the selfless outdoor recreation perpetrated by University of Montana sophomore Ben Adkison, pictured at right ascending Gray Wolf Peak in the Mission Range. Adkison is working to raise $3,500 through Backpacker magazine’s “Summit for Someone” benefit climb program in order to send five at-risk youth on a weeklong backpacking trip this summer.

Now, before we go canonizing the young man, I’ll set the record straight by reporting that he gets something from the deal too: a guided trip up 13,804-foot Gannet Peak in Wyoming. Motivations aside, it’s a noble cause, and as a community, it’s something we can get behind, or underneath, as it were. Contribute outright or buy raffle tickets for great stuff from local businesses by calling Ben at 396-6053 or e-mailing

Having assuaged your guilt from being neither dead of a heroin overdose nor a champion of at-risk kids, now it’s time to get on with your personal recreation. The Five Valleys Audubon Society offers an intensive intermediate birding class in five parts beginning Thu., April 12 at 7 PM at Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ office, 3201 Spurgin Road. Two additional classroom sessions meet at 7 PM on Thu., April 19, and Thu., April 26, with field trips on Sat., April 14 and Sat., April 21. There can be only 30 participants, so call Shirley 543-5728 with haste.

Should your attempt to get high with the birds fail, here’s another option: get low—as in weight—at the first of three free “Light Backpacking Clinics” at REI, 2230 N. Reserve St., at 7 PM on Thu., April 12. Learn about all the advances in lightweight gear—reminder: the course takes place in a store that sells this stuff—and receive a free store coupon with attendance—bingo. The first class covers backpacks, while follow-up clinics address lightweight choices in sleeping bags, tents, stoves and cookware. Call 829-0432.

They say every ounce counts, which is especially important when you’re trying to get as high as possible in the Bitterroots. Hook up with the Rocky Mountaineers on Sat., April 14, for the next trip in their classic series, this one to Trapper Peak at just over 10,000 feet. These people are serious, planning to leave at 6:15 AM from South Missoula. Bring skis with skins, or snowshoes, or your snowboard, or just an Arctic Cat. Call Alden at 243-4790 or 542-1966.

Your next option for altered consciousness comes in the form of a Missoulians on Bicycles ride on Sat., April 14, to Stevensville. The 32nd Annual Cheeseburger Boogie to Stevensville is a 55-mile ride that leaves from the 4-Bs parking lot on Brooks Avenue at 9 AM. The possibility of a side trip into the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Refuge gives this ride a leg up on the competition. Call Bob at 543-7704.

Find what might be the perfect high when you ascend Holland Peak (9,356 feet), with the New Rocky Mountaineers on Sat., April 14. The route involves steep slopes, about 4,000 feet of vertical gain and a nice view at the end. Call Gerald at 549-4769.

Solitude has been known to bring both highs and lows, and I know I’d go through all kinds of emotions if I crossed Alaska with a bunch of dogs. Montana’s connection to Alaska’s famed Iditarod Sled Race is strong—four-time winner Doug Swingley hails from the Treasure State—which explains why Sat., April 14, is Iditarod Day in Lincoln. Starting at 2 PM, you can hear old-timers swap tales, watch real sled dogs sniff tails and learn more about the lore of the “Last Great Race.” Call Charlie at 362-4633.

We’ll be staying low for the remainder, folks. Missoulians on Bicycles roll into the 10th Annual Beavertail to Drummond Frontage Frolic on Sun., April 15, at 9 AM. Meet at Eastgate shopping center and get ready to eat pie at Bullshippers in Drummond. Call Tom or Sue at 728-8319.

Bringing it down another notch, here’s a mellow offering from the Rocky Mountaineers: a pleasant and scenic six-mile hike along Kootenai Creek takes place on Sun., April 15. Inhale, exhale, then call Fred at 542-7372.

Finally, get really low, I mean subterranean, when you attend the monthly meeting of the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto of the National Speleological Society on Wed., April 18, at 7 PM at Pipestone Mountaineering, 129 W. Front St. After the cave-related business is taken care of, Lee-Gray Boze will present the program “Speleogenesis of Ophir Cave, Avon, MT,” which certainly has nothing to do with mutated, half-bat creatures attacking a group of extreme sport-loving supermodels, shame that it is.

Until next week, get as high or as low as you like, and send word of upcoming outdoor recreational events to me in a hollowed-out peanut butter jar—that way my editor’s dogs won’t pick up the scent.
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