Summer is so short in Montana. Warm days, cool nights, clear blue skies, and “decorative clouds”, as a local meteorologist puts it, make it mighty hard to be indoors for any period of time. Thus I will keep this short.
I was hiking and backpacking last weekend with three friends I’ve known for a long time, and it was great to reconnect with them in nature, to create some new adventures together, and to catch up on what has been happening in our lives, and dream about what it is to come.
All that really hit home our final night in the backcountry. The four of us walked to gather snow for evening margaritas, as well as water in liquid form for drinking and cooking. We did, of course, boil or treat the water for drinking and cooking, but just added snow to the tequila, then marg mix, then slices of lime, and then it was pretty damn perfect, sipping away while soaking up the views, stoking a fire to drive off the mosquitoes, and gazing at some of the clearest skies I’ve ever been fortunate to witness.
Back to our walk to gather snow. En route, we stumbled and nearly stepped upon a newborn elk calf. We immediately created more distance between the calf and ourselves, still not quite sure where its mother was at that time, but we knew enough to leave it alone, and let its mother return when it was safer for her to do so.
By the next morning, the calf was gone. How trusting and still the calf looked crouched under a lone conifer, its eyes not even blinking, its chest heaving with each slow and apparently calm breath. How wild to briefly peer into its eyes and perhaps see the future, where once the calf was able to run and keep up with the herd, it would never again be still and trusting and calm in the presence of people.
In that moment, I also felt a deep stillness, trust and calm in the wild, and a deep sense of awe, stewardship and responsibility toward all whom we share our remaining remote places with. We all belong outside.