At 4300ft elevation wild sarsaparilla faded out, while the terrain held strong. Scratchy, porous, ruby brushed rocks appeared housing beargrass communities of subalpine fir and huckleberry, with the noble shrubby-penstemon filling more faded enclaves. The ridges are long and claimed by windthrown species of lodgepole and slow-growing whitebark pine honoring the perseverance of hardship endowed by their arboreal origins.
I feel the cliff before I approach it. A rapidly narrowing bench promises satisfaction to my curiosity; my feet work quickly to keep pace with my body as I careen up the ridgeline. Entering the breeze that was gifted by the break, I am careful with my steps. The ground ends suddenly here, and the views become heavenly.
In the gradient of blues composing this mountain-scape, tributaries begin to make their presence known in the first humble folds of rock. Your eye can trace them and observe their deepening foldings, overlapping in ancient tales of evolution.
Our land use is a choice we continue to make. I am grateful for the places that remain where my sight may be graced with the rugged, raw materials of north Idaho and western Montana. Through sound planning and management practices, we can achieve a spectrum of policies and procedures that include conserving these raw material oases.
My feet are heavy. I set down my pack, facing the setting sun. I peel my leaden boots from my feet, and place them to the side. Songbirds nesting in nearby subalpine fir begin chirping. I lean against my pack, breast to the sun, and watch the world come alive.
For now, I enjoy our present, and I make a quiet wish for our future.
For More information about landuse in the Northern Rockies: http://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/1794/a/pp1794a.pdf
For more information about the Wilderness Act: http://wilderness.org/article/wilderness-act
For more information about how to keep our local wildernesses, try us!: https://www.scotchmanpeaks.org/