* LOOKING UP: One of the great things about heading outdoors (which is hard to do when the wind whips and the couch and TV beckon) are the people you get to meet, especially around Washington, where so many worlds overlap. The person on the crag next to you at Carderock could be a climbing bum, a diplomat or, in the case of Baltimore's Mark Kochte, an expert on the Hubble telescope who in his day job makes sense of data sent 370 miles back to Earth. Kochte, 40, has climbed for 20 years and is the author of the soon-to-be-published "Climb Maryland" guidebook. He will be the featured speaker at the next meeting of the Blue Ridge Section of the American Alpine Club on Monday at the Rhodeside Grill, 1836 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. His talk, which starts at 8 p.m., is free and open to the public.

* TECHNICAL MATTER: Jim Greene of the Potomac-Patuxent Chapter of Trout Unlimited recently told me, a dedicated non-angler, "Don't be intimidated by the mystique of fly-fishing. There isn't anything you can't pick up in half an hour." I believe him, but I'm guessing the sport holds intricacies that can take a lifetime to unwrap. So who better to learn from than Joe Bruce, a fly-fisher and author whose pursuit of game fish is buttressed by 40 years of experience? He will be the featured speaker on Wednesday at the Potomac-Patuxent chapter's meeting that starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Schweinhaut Senior Center, 1000 Forest Glen Rd., Silver Spring. The event is free and open to the public. Call 301-652-3848 for details.

* DOUBLE DUTY: The seventh annual NOVA Mountain Bike Duathlon (the first in the season series) will be held on March 23 at the Wakefield Recreation Center in Annandale. Circuit includes a nine-mile, off-road ride book ended by 2.3-mile trail runs. The race starts at 9 a.m. To register or volunteer, visit www.triath.com or call 410-593-9662.

-- John Mullen