The Heart of the Continent

image3Looking east and south from the summit of the Big Mountain ski hill.  Glacier and the Bob are visible in the left half, the Mission Mountains at far distant center, and Whitefish Lake at far right.

Today was an exceptional day to live here.  Below freezing in the morning, bluebird and fairly warm all day, with a nice 10-20 mph wind.  After being stuck inside at the computer all day, I was anxious to get up the closed ski area and enjoy what would by 5pm almost certainly be exceptional snow.  And so it was, and I was not the only one.  There are a lot of people in the area who like hiking the hill, and everyone up there this evening did not care to hide their joy.

Since returning from Utah last fall and making some rather strident proclamations about missing the desert, I’ve found it difficult to muster reasons and momentum to do anything about it.  I like living here, more than I realized a year ago.

There are prosaic reasons.  Utah and Arizona have too many people.  Utah has shitty hunting regulations.  Grizzly bears are awesome.  I’ve really come to enjoy skiing, and distinct, often harsh, seasons.  More significantly, we know a lot of wonderful people here, and have a base of knowledge concerning the area which is a fine foundation upon which a lifetime of adventure can be based.

None of this is quite sufficient, at least when it comes to explaining the attachment to northwest Montana which has grown in the back of my brain.

nsm_depth

Snow is the answer.

This map isn’t representative of a trans-yearly average, but does capture just how important the mountains of Glacier, the Bob, and the Frank-Selway and Greater Yellowstone complexes are for the US.  The Missouri, Snake, and Colorado Rivers all exist because of these mountains.  Simply put, being able to witness the seasonal flux which accumulates and then disburses that water is a very special thing, and a hard one to let go.

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