Voices in the Wilderness: Emily Myers

A Most Memorable Wilderness Experience

When Schweitzer Mountain closed early due to COVID-19, my friend Josie and I were determined to keep skiing. We hatched a plan to hike up the mountain and ski down, an adventure that would test our endurance and reward us with unforgettable views. With our backpacks loaded with food, water, and ski gear, we set out early in the morning. Together walking up the bowl, we were struck by how quiet and peaceful the mountain was. Gone were the crowds of skiers, the hum of chairlifts, and the clatter of ski boots. The only sounds were the crunch of our footsteps on the snow and the occasional call of a bird.

With every step, we encountered obstacles such as fallen trees and icy patches, but we pressed on, motivated by the promise of fresh tracks on the other side. For hours, we trekked through the wild, our breath coming out in white puffs in the frigid air. As we reached the summit, we stood in silence, staring out at the vastness before us. Snow-covered peaks stretched out in every direction, and the valley below was blanketed in a sea of mist. We could see for miles, the mountains and forests stretching out in all directions, with no signs of human life in sight. I felt a sense of reverence and humility wash over me, as I realized how small and insignificant we were in comparison to the natural world around us. The experience made me appreciate the beauty and fragility of our planet even more and instilled in me a desire to protect and preserve it.

When the sun began to set behind us, casting a golden glow across the landscape, we knew it was time to ski down. The snow sparkled like diamonds in the fading light, and the trees stood tall and proud, their branches heavy with snow. With a sense of anticipation, we clicked into our bindings and pushed off. The snow was perfect, and we carved long, satisfying turns down the mountain. We stopped several times to catch our breath and take in the scenery, marveling at how the ski resort had transformed back into its natural state.

Tired but exhilarated, we reached the bottom of the mountain, our legs aching from the long descent. As we removed our skis and began the trek back to our car, the noise of condo construction reminded us that we were returning to civilization.

As we drove away from the ski resort, we couldn’t help but reflect on the journey we had just taken. From the empty slopes to the challenging hike up the mountain, it was an adventure unlike any other. We were grateful for the opportunity to experience the wilderness in a new way, and that even in the midst of a pandemic, nature can provide solace and escape. The mountain had reminded us that it was always wild, and we felt grateful to have experienced it in this way. Looking back, that hike up the mountain and skiing down was more than just a fun adventure. It was a
lesson in humility and a reminder of the importance of cherishing the natural world. We knew that the memory of this wilderness experience would stay with us forever and with it the importance of protecting these natural spaces for future generations.

Emily is a graduating Senior from Clark Fork High School. They submitted this essay for FSPW’s high school scholarship contest. Stay tuned for more winning essays from students across Idaho and Montana.

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