“Range after range of mountains.
Year after year after year.
I am still in love.”
– Gary Snyder
Spring break this year, we drove across the West and past many, many mountain ranges in Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and Montana. I didn’t dare sleep in the car or stare at my phone while being a passenger moving past them because I’d miss them. Instead, I gazed across the landscapes or would read my tattered paper road maps splayed across my lap and try to find out the elevation of the highest peak that I could see in the distance or the next little town coming up. On one particular mountain in Nevada, I tried to imagine the route I’d take to the top. Looking out the back window as we drove past it, Bob asked what I was doing and I told him I was trying to figure out a good route to the top. He asked if I was planning on doing that anytime soon. I told him no, but anything is possible.
The western United States is blessed with vast areas of public lands in the middle of nowhere that rarely get stepped on by a human foot, but it doesn’t make them any less special or less valuable. If anything, it’s the opposite.
It wasn’t until spending time the past few years hiking around the chukar hills that I realized how important they were to me. On our road trip across the West, I started reflecting back on all the many hundreds of miles hiking up and down these mountains and back to the beginning. I felt like talking about it in the video (below).