From of as early as I can remember, the mountains have been my favorite place. Growing up, the mountains were a way of life for us. We spent a lot of time there with immediate and extended family, and we created amazing, lifelong memories. Most of my childhood memories that have stuck with me, both in detail and meaning, are those I experienced in the mountains.
When it comes to hunting, I’ve learned that some people value and appreciate the entire experience from every angle and aspect, while others only care first and foremost about the end result(s) or objective. Every person is different, and I understand and appreciate that it’s what makes the world go round. I haven’t always been this way, but at this point in my life, there’s a lot that’s missed along the journey if the only thing that matters is the trophy hitting the dirt.
The last two seasons, I’ve been able to spend some abnormally long, consecutive runs in the mountains. In 2021, I spent nearly a month hunting Stone sheep in British Columbia, and in 2022, I returned to continue the pursuit and journey. Between these two years, I put a lot of miles on the horses and the boots, completely detached from everyday life, and I had a lot of time to think and reflect. Throughout these countless days, my thoughts continued to circle back to how much the mountains have given me over my lifetime, all that I’ve been able to gain from them, and how grateful I am and need to be for them. As these thoughts journeyed in and out of my head, I decided to write them down so I didn’t lose them. In this Soapbox, I’ve decided to share them with you.
The mountains are where I feel a deep sense of peace that, to me, can’t be found or justifiably replicated anywhere else.
The mountains are like home to me. They strip away all of the worldly, material, and social noise that exists in the everyday race of life. No matter how crazy life becomes, the mountains are where I can hit the reset button and reach a better understanding. They’re a reminder of the way it used to be and the way it should be.
Life can be tough, and the mountains have been a consistent teacher for me, in more ways than I can count. They have taught me how to climb, how to work through and overcome obstacles and challenges, and how to better develop attributes that carry over into everyday life, attributes such as greater patience, humility, appreciation, charity and love, hope, diligence, and obedience.
The mountains are where I feel I’m closest to where I’m going. It’s where my true peace is found and where I feel closest to my Heavenly Father. It’s where some of my deepest and most meaningful conversations have taken place.
The mountains have taught me the importance of preparedness, to identify what I need to work on to direct me toward continuous progression. They have taught me what it means to commit and see it through and to arrive at the top, regardless of the variables along the climb that attempt to impede me from reaching my final destination.
The mountains have taught me that just like the importance of constantly staying supplemented to not run out of gas before the top, I must constantly stay supplemented not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually, to not fall short and/or lose direction. They’ve taught me to stay supplemented to remain capable of persevering until the end with a sustained and constant effort.
The mountains are where I’ve experienced unique personal moments that couldn’t occur in any other setting, moments that pull at the heartstrings each time I relive them. It’s where some of my best friendships have developed, sometimes with complete strangers and in ridiculously short amounts of time.
The mountains are where I’ve received some of the clearest and most concise affirmations for my immediate family, specifically referring to direction and counsel for my children, my marriage, and my/our current and future life to come.
Notice your surroundings, focus on one thing at a time, unplug, accept things as they are, be mindful of everything you do and are doing, and fully appreciate the moments of today. Try experiencing the journey and not just the endgame.