Mountain High 

This weekend, you can tip your hat to conservationists like Aldo Leopold or Bob Marshall, since Sat., Sept. 25, is National Public Lands Day—you know, that special day created back in 1994 where we get off our butts and go do some restoration work on the lands that we recreate on each and every week. Here in Missoula, I’ve got a shovelful of free Public Lands Day events for you to tackle, so I’ll start with the first: Missoula’s Parks and Rec Department heads up a handful of restoration projects that include planting trees and shrubs in Greenough Park, as well as installing a runners tread on the southside Riverfront Trail, from 9 AM–4 PM at those sites. Call Jason at 552-6271. Or you could get your green on another way by planting grass seeds and plants, and removing weeds, when you join the Northern Rockies Chapter of Wildlands Restoration Volunteers for its Milltown Bridge Native Plant Restoration activity, which aims to establish more vegetation at the Gateway Park site and runs from 9 AM–noon in Milltown. E-mail Graham at to sign up and for directions. Better yet, celebrate the day with the Montana Conservation Corps, REI and the Sierra Club when they join forces with volunteers to build three turnpike bridges at the Spring and Sawmill Gulches in the Rattlesnake, starting at 9 AM by meeting at the Rattlesnake Trailhead. Call Bobby at 728-2720. If that sounds a little too hardcore for you, go ahead and pull weeds and plant native plants ‘til your thumbs turn green during the Rattlesnake Creek Watershed Group’s restoration project, which runs from 10 AM–4 PM at the Bugbee Nature Area, on Missoula Avenue. Call Greg at 471-3363.

Those up north can also lend a hand to the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, which lies on the Flathead River, when the Flathead Audubon Society meets Sat., Sept. 25, to pull weeds, clear trails and repair fences in the area starting with a 9 AM meet-up at the Montessori School, 349 Willow Glen Drive in Kalispell. Free. Call Brent at 756-8130.

With that mass of restoration fun out of the way, let’s do the moonwalk and slide back a few days. On Thu., Sept. 23, you can enrich your mind during the Bitterroot National Forest’s 2010 Moonwalk Interpretative Series presentation titled “Pollinator Moon,” a talk that covers the importance of pollinators and how to attract them to your garden, and begins with a guided hike at 6:30 PM, followed by the presentation at 7:30 PM, at Blodgett Creek Campground, four miles west of Hamilton. Free. Call 375-2606.

If this next event doesn’t make your legs ache with joy, I’m not sure what will. On Sat., Sept. 25, the Rocky Mountaineers’ present the intensive bike jaunt known as The M.E.S.S., which departs from Missoula and takes you to the Elk Summit/Blodgett Creek Circuit of the Bitterroot Mountains. Here’s the scoop for your wheels: The ride includes 53 miles of uphill biking on paved road, plus 25 miles of steep gravel road biking, and finishes off with a 25-mile plus single track run. And yes, you’ll be doing this all in one day, so if you think your legs can take that kind of a beating, contact Joshua at 396-3162 to find out the departure time, and visit for details.

Then again, you could hustle hard on Sat., Sept. 25, during UM’s third annual Homecoming Hustle, a 5k race or 3k walk (depending on your preference) that begins at 9:55 AM on the corner of Higgins Avenue and Broadway Street. Once you’re off and running, the race will take you down the UM Homecoming Parade route, and over to UM’s campus, where you’ll then do a lap around Washington-Grizzly Stadium. $30, with same-day registration and check-in from 8–9 AM upstairs at Runner’s Edge, 325 N. Higgins Ave.

Avoid a case of lazy feet on Sun., Sept. 26, by letting your soles pound the ground during the third annual Fall Classic Relay 12k, where you can run wild during the 12k, or opt for an easier 8k or 4k run, starting at 10:30 AM at the Blue Mountain Recreation Area. $20 per person/$56 per team, with proceeds benefiting the Watson Children’s Shelter and the Big Sky High School cross-country team. E-mail for a registration form.

Alternately, you could race or hike with your pooch on Sun., Sept. 26, during The Canine Classic at Paws Up, a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Western Montana that includes a handful of activities to hit up with your furry friend including hikes, as well as a half-marathon and a timed run. It kicks off with registration at 9 AM at The Resort at Paws Up, 40060 Paws Up Road, off Hwy. 200 near Greenough. $50/$20 for children, or collect $150–$125 in pledges. Visit for details and call 549-HSWM.

Find out how to fondle rocks for fun, in a way, when the UM Outdoor Program presents its “Fundamentals of Rock Climbing” course, an all-levels class that covers how to belay and lead a climb, with registration due Wed., Sept. 29. The class itself meets all day on Sun., Oct. 3, and the $42 price tag covers transportation, instruction and gear. Call 243-5172 to RSVP, and while you’re at it, click to for a complete list of the Outdoor Program’s upcoming offerings.

On Wed., Sept. 29, hear from a man who fought the odds with adventure during “Stronger Than Cancer: Fighting Back by Climbing Mountains,” a presentation with Scott Woods—who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 and recently reached the summit of Mount Rainier—that starts with beverages/appetizers at 5:30 PM, and moves into the presentation at 6:15 PM, all at the Roxy Theater, 718 S. Higgins Ave. Donations appreciated. Visit

Now go grab Fido and hit those trails, pronto!

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