“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” ~ John Muir, Our National Parks
My wife and I share the same sad disorder. We LOVE the mountains! (That’s not the disorder). We love their beauty and just looking at the mountains. We love to visit the mountains, take our vacations in the mountains, and are making plans to, actually live IN the mountains, not just at the base of them or here in the foothills.
There is something we find so invigorating, soul-awakening, renewing, restoring, refreshing and healing about being in the mountains for us. (That’s still not the disorder). The disorder we have is the let down and sadness we feel as we head down out of the mountains. For both of us, it is actually physically depressing – altering our moods and making us long for and ache for them. It seems that no sooner have we left them, that we then begin planning our next trip up into the mountains.
Perhaps you share the same disorder, and wonder exactly what it is that draws us to this beautiful topography. Here are a few of the countless things we love about the mountains.
1. Their Ability to Awaken Our Senses
The atmosphere of pure, fresh air, the scent of pine needles, cool, dry breezes, winding rivers and babbling brooks, the whisper of wind through the aspen and pines, and the smell of cozy campfires – all provide a sense of well-being, and even offer a kind of euphoria, similar to that of being in love.
Our bodies crave fresh air. Our senses crave stimulation. And our hearts desire the thrill of something to awaken us, and makes us feel alive – that life is worth living.
These desires and needs can all be met by the invigorating atmosphere and incredible scenes found in the mountains.
2. Their Offer of Simplicity
In the mountains time stands still. If there is one thing that feels both massive and non-existent at the same time in the mountains, it is TIME.
When life is reduced to meeting one’s basic needs – eating, resting, and enjoying simple recreation – the man-made stresses of city life tend to quickly melt away. So often we put unnecessary and harmful demands on our minds and bodies that drain us, restrict our capacity for joy in life, and actually begin to slowly kill us mentally, spiritually and physically.
Author Philip Connors writes, “The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble — to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. I produce nothing but words; I consume nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.”
When one returns to the simple lifestyle and activities the mountains offer – things like hiking, fishing, cooking over a campfire, and wildlife viewing – life becomes new again, and all the cares and worries of the world tend to wash away downstream as by a refreshing mountain river.
3. Their Beauty and Grandeur
Just by their sheer size and magnificence, mountains give us a sense of wonder and awe that is not found in the valleys and plains below. Every ecosystem and handiwork of Nature has its beauty and purpose, but there is something about these peaks, slopes, and spires that make us feel both small and significant at the same time.
Ansel Adams said, “No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied – it speaks in silence to the very core of your being.”
4. Their Altitude
Also, the mountains are a great place to go when you have an important decision to make. They give us a better view of the world below, offering a sense of perspective that can be found nowhere else on the planet. When standing at heights thousands of feet above sea level, things just seem to make more sense, life takes on new meaning, and old paradigms disappear, giving the viewer a clearer vision of his life and purpose in the world.
You are closer to the sun and stars, and all of heaven when standing on a mountaintop.
5. Their Wildlife
Surrounded by Nature and her creatures, one becomes aware once again of the fact that we are not alone, but are all one – a part of the same Universe and circle of life. Not only is it entertaining to observe and interact with the plants and animals dwelling in the mountains, but it can actually be educational as well.
Sitting quietly by a stream, watching the water ouzels and other birds finding food and playing in the water, or standing in a meadow or woods watching a mother deer interact with her young can teach one so much about life in the human world. Elk, moose, bears and mountain lions, beavers, badgers and bobcats all have something unique to teach us about life, and how it should be lived. In the wildlife, one has a tangible reminder that we are not an island, or living in a bubble but that every living thing affects every other living thing, and that we should strive to cherish and preserve our planet.
6. Their Tranquility and Remoteness
In the mountains there is a remoteness and unexplainable reverie; a stillness leading to a sense of abiding peace and well-being; there is a feeling of connectedness to the Headwaters – the Source of it all…
Sit by a still mountain lake surrounded by tall rocky spires pointing to heaven, or in a high mountain meadow graced with sunshine and cool breezes, and your heart begins to slow down to a calm and healthy pace.
Stress and anxiety lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and a host of other illnesses and sicknesses that can be avoided or greatly reduced by the peace, solace and solitude that being in the mountains brings.
These are just a few of the myriad reasons we love the mountains. Do your body, mind and spirit a giant favor; plan your next vacation or lifetime in the mountains as soon as possible and gain their many grand joys, benefits, and rewards.
In the meantime, if you find yourself in the lowlands, longing for the mountains or planning your next trip or permanent move to the mountains, remember this –
You may not always be able to be in the mountains… but you can always carry the mountain within yourself.