It doesn’t come easily. But when you let the space between your ribs settle, when you remember to be present, the world opens up.
Winter here in the West has not been, by a skier’s standards, the finest. But nonetheless, we’ve found cold and snow, sporadically, with effort, and with great bouts of spring-time warmth in between. In a forest service cabin, on the mountainside, in the depths of Cooke City. It’s been a winter of mourning for a hound dog that kept pace by my side for fifteen years, and so I must say that everything in this landscape feels slightly off, tainted with grief–both mine and others.
But this is life, and mountains, and climate change. And you carry on, and you look for the glimmers.
You stare at photos as if they might be all that’s left, but the truth is they’re just a metaphor for what stirs your heart.
Further reading for fall. Two recent projects that I just wrapped up:
Over at Conde Nast Traveler: 12 Reasons to Visit National Parks in the Off-Season
And at Montana Backcountry, a sneak peek at Elk Camp, in Photos.
September has been full of exploration. Always one of my favorite times of year, this time I’m actually getting outside more than usual. A quick tour:
1. The daily wanderings, around Bozeman. Getting out despite waning daylight, weather, and such.
2. Working on some stories about Yellowstone National Park. A week on horseback in the backcountry.
Spring, season of all seasons, calls for a certain kind of hyperactivity. When it’s 65F and sunny, you–quick before it changes–get out on a run in shorts. You pull out the mountain bike but agree to meet the snowbanks with a smile, or at least stamina or the reasoning to turn around. You multi-sport it. Bike. Hike. Ski. You take a nap when it rains all day.
You think you might take up birding because of the meadowlark alone. And wildflowers, too. But you also refocus on writing dreams. Life dreams. The days are longer now. There’s time.
Here’s a new side project I’m working on with a few friends: Montana Backcountry – a new adventure blog. The four of us spend a lot of time cavorting around the mountains, but we all have different interests and passions. Hunting, skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, wild game recipes, trail running, rafting, climbing, camping with toddlers. And so on. Whether you want inspiration or arm-chair adventure … I’ll be posting there from time to time.
It’s easy to give in to the pattern of working life, to convince yourself you don’t have time. My three jobs are wearing me down this winter. Friday, I nearly turned the wrong way on a one-way street. Cause: burned-out brain. I try to remind myself that being outdoors is the thing that brings relief and recovery. I spent the last two days skiing with fabulous women. Good times. Vitamin N (nature). Powder. Trees. Trees covered in powder. Tonight, lying on the couch, I feel exhausted in the right, relaxed way. Revitalization achieved.
Headed towards Monday, and more snow on the way.
A day backcountry skiing in the Bitterroot mountains.
It was the opposite of a powder day. Lots of survival skiing through rocks and downed trees. But that’s not the point.
The point was a gorgeous warm day in the mountains, six hours of moving, no other humans, the sun shining, and skirting the tracks of mountain lions along the ridges. One of my favorite things about winter is that brief record of how animals move through a place, especially evasive ones such as this.