Mountain High 

Some people are of the opinion that Mountain High is a column targeted solely toward rec-heads and extreme sportspeople, the folks you see around town who are always ready to drop everything and go caving in Peru, or skin-diving in Finland or whatnot.

Well, that’s just not the case.

Especially now, as the news comes in that on Thu., Sept. 6, a Tennessee touron on a guided and baited black bear hunt in the nearby Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness managed to slay the first confirmed grizzly in the area since 1946.

I can’t help but feel partially responsible.

Perhaps if I’d refrained from writing about all the great hiking, skiing, boating and mammal-killing to be had out there, such a travesty might not have occurred.

I’m so disappointed in myself.

As you know, the grizzly bear is a threatened species, so it’s not legal to kill them. Do you know how to tell a black bear from a grizzly in the woods? Posters on the subject focus on the grizzly’s superlong, light-hued claws, large back hump and dished face. Also, black bears don’t wear athletic uniforms and perform jumping jacks during football games.

All right, the only way I’m going to ease my conscience is by offering this theme for the week: don’t leave town.

There’s always an exception to my little themes, and it usually has to do with the Rocky Mountaineers, bane of my every litero-recreationalist effort. They’ve got a weird one this week, which makes me feel just a little better about listing it: Explore some little-known hills in the Townsend-Three Forks area—known individually as the Spokane, Limestone, Horseshoe and London Hills—when you take off on the afternoon of Fri., Sept. 14, with the goal of finding the high point of each in one weekend. Call Steve at 721-4686, and leave the rifle at home.

And we return to our in-town, non-lethal outdoor opportunities with the advent of the season’s final confirmed Blue Mountain Observatory Public Stargazing Event one hour after sunset on Fri., Sept. 14. The people who put these things on insist that I remind you that due to our frequent smoke/automobile exhaust blanket, these stargazing nights are sometimes cancelled. Before you head up the mountain, call 243-5179, and if you need directions, visit 

These next two options both involve running, not bear baiting, beating or butchering. Despite their website’s proud claim that it’s “the only ultra on which you‘ll wish to wield bear deterrent spray,” I really don’t think there’s anything to fear from the Swan Crest 57k Trail Run on Sat., Sept. 15. You’ll need to be at the mandatory runner’s check-in meeting at the Swan Lake Community Center on Fri. evening, plus you’ll need to register and do all that other stuff, so if running a really long way sounds good to you, visit or call 250-9827.

Fifty-seven kilometers is roughly 35.418158 miles, which prompts me to ask, “How the hell can a human run that far in a day?” If you’re asking the same question, then perhaps a nice ‘n’ easy 26.2 miles is more your bag. The Two Bears Marathon features a starting gun—fear not: Like my buddy Vince, it shoots blanks—at 7:30 AM on Sun., Sept. 16, and lures self-punishers from as far off as Mexico and Germany, so it’s almost like you’re not leaving town for this one, either. Call 250-6699 or visit

Running all weekend is a great way to work up a serious thirst, so get back down to the Rattlesnake Valley—no road-side pot shots at furbearers, whether you believe it’s your “heritage” or not—for an afternoon amid the vines and vintners of the Ten Spoon Winery, where UM’s Environmental Studies Program celebrates 15 years of its literary journal Camas at 2 PM on Sun., Sept. 16. With lawn games, readings, live music and plenty of wine, you won’t build huge quads or delts, but then you won’t be smoking Smokey either, will you? Call 243-5738.

Missoula’s Parks and Recreation Department reminds us that the fall crisp is about to close in—hopefully the remaining Selway grizzlies will find a reprieve from visitors’ bullets—which means the indoor sport season is right around the corner. You have until 5 PM on Mon., Sept. 18, to register your fall indoor soccer team. Now get on it.

And last, local, and certainly not least, the Northern Rocky Mountain Grotto holds their monthly caving meeting at 7 PM on Wed., Sept. 19, at Pipestone Mountaineering. Bear-lover Daryl Greaser will expand your notion of deep with his slideshow “The Deepest Caves in the United States: Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico and Virgil the Turtle’s Greathouse Cave in Montana” after the business part of the meeting is done. Call 546-1234.

And don’t let me catch you creeping up on any more bears, you hear?
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