By Frank Preston
If you live in Missoula long enough, you stop listening to the weather report this time of year. The predictions of 12-24 inches in the mountains almost always disappoint with a third that much. You figure out what the weather is really going to do, and you rely on your own cloud-reading. Despite WRI celebrating a week of staff birthdays, I don’t know if we are ready to talk about “the ole’ trick knee acting up- gonna snow” or have our creeky old backs keep us from our outdoor pursuits.
When the weather started shifting to winter, and we knew snow was imminent, we hitched up the last three of the jet-boats and hauled them to the new warehouse for hibernation. We arrived at the Alberton Gorge Ranch to check on the progress of the WRI facility, pleased with the speed at which the building is coming along. With a 3200 sq. ft. concrete slab, 4 walls, and a roof, we knew it wouldn’t be long before all the boats would nestle inside. For now, however, we had to get them undercover.
It took some jockeying, but we got two jet-boats inside the garage, with rafts stacked high along the sides, and the rest of the boats under roofs in the barn. While only a temporary solution, the next day the flakes started coming down, and haven’t stopped. Town only has a dusting, but the mountains got anywhere between 8-12 inches yesterday alone!
The rivers are cold, and there is work to be done in the office. We are looking forward to ski season, which seems to pass the time well enough until the rivers start running in the spring.
What else are we excited about this time of year? Lots of people getting a chance to sport their brand new WRI embroidered Patagonia jackets, for one. At ski-films, out at restaurants, riding to campus, they seem to be everywhere. Big thanks to Cody and Mike for their warmth!
Missoula also played host to WRI ace, boat operator Charlie Conn for a Trout Unlimited talk about his adventures on the oil spill cleanup, fishing Yellowstone National park, and of course, Mongolia. While he has been guiding rivers for 48” taiman for 13 seasons, this monumental season marked the first time his daughter was able to go with him!
“Whether you are a river-rookie or an experienced boater, WRI tailors their classes to what you need to learn in a fun and challenging environment. Their scenario based teaching approach creates an electric learning atmosphere where you feel like you are in actual river rescue situations. I would recommend them to anybody!”