The Mountains as Medicine

"I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright." –Henry David Thoreau

In the office, around town, something just didn’t seem right. I couldn’t place exactly what was wrong, but as soon as the first bright sunny day came around, it became clear: I needed mountains. Peace and quiet. Fresh air. I hadn’t been outdoors in weeks and the summer issue’s looming deadline was taking its toll, twisting my guts tight. I needed a break from my computer and cell phone, time away from deadlines and bills and people, a place silent and elevated. Somewhere deep in the trees, where emails and the sound of traffic couldn’t find me.

So I drove off into the Gallatins, hiked past the trailhead, and got good and lost for a while. The same problems rolled through my brain with every step, but the farther I got from civilization, the more the volume went down. By the time I found myself on top of some peak, my lungs burned and my thighs ached, but my mind was clear. When I got back into town, everything was the same, but it felt… better. By heading into the hills, the churned-up issues in my mind had calmed and separated like silt in a bucket of water. I felt a new clarity. My guts had unwound again. The mountains had cured me.

And as the weather got better, I began to notice it around Bozeman. More people had escaped the pressures of town and found relief in nature. The wide grins at the Leverich trailhead. The easy laughs at Practice Rock. Restaurants and bars filled with smiling people, still covered in dirt from their latest trip to the woods. It was undeniable: the more time people spent outside, the happier they were. 

This issue pays tribute to nature’s healing influence. Paul Sveum’s piece on page 68 illustrates the point beautifully, recommending that we unplug from our high-tech nonsense and actually sit and listen to nature instead of treating it like a glorified treadmill. To really demonstrate the curative power of the mountains, we’ve got a feature on summiting Granite Peak in the wake of a breakup (p. 80). Believe me: the higher you get, the smaller your problems will seem. And so you can have your own mountaintop meditation, we’ve included a profile of our favorite backyard summit, Hyalite Peak (p. 28), complete with a map and a list of waterfalls to enjoy on the way up. Need a midday or post-work quickie? Check out our spread on the six manmade boulders scattered throughout town (p. 72), showcasing the Bozeman Boulder Initiative’s years of hard work to bring the outdoors even closer. So sit back, enjoy our summer issue, and then head into the woods to enjoy nature. Reconnect. You’ll find what you’re looking for.