This week has been true-to-season Autumnal, cool and cloudy with that unmistakable earthy smell on the breeze. I made the first lentil curry of this season tonight; it finally felt like the right time.
Earlier this week, I meandered my way up to Hornet Lookout (60 miles on gravel roads). After I passed Polebridge, I didn’t see another human soul. I hiked in the stillness of that vast wilderness, deeply aware of each snapping branch and flush of feathers. I scared a grouse out of its hiding spot, its wings pushing air forcefully behind them, shockingly loud in the quiet. He and I looked at each other for a moment, when he landed, considering what the other had to offer: it considering a threat, me pondering it’s perfect camouflage against the fallen lodgepoles.
To be honest, I was anxious in the wilderness on this little walk in the woods. Being that far out, that alone, I couldn’t get my mind to rest. I spent much of the trek uphill yelling and singing to myself to let any critters know I was on my way. I’m not often so afraid in the woods, and it’s not a feeling I enjoy. I hurried my way through the hike, gazed at the views for a bit, then scurried back to my car for lunch. I realized what was bothering me wasn’t the wilderness, the threat of bears or flat tires, or solo adventure; it was being truly, actually alone for the first time in months. My internal monologue was the loudest thing in my head, which is unusual in my busy, sensory overloaded life. It was a good exercise in leaning into discomfort.
This season is always one of overwhelming feelings for me.
Sheer wonder at the world surrounding me: how the leaves turn to death so boldly, the definition the first snow gives the peaks, the glacial blue of the river
Intense emotions surrounding change: how the fall always brings new roommates & coworkers, a busy working season when I’m exhausted, the tendency to want for movement & exploration AND the need to be still
Relearning my way around the weather: learning to love the cold air again, my asthmatic lungs heaving with the chill on the breeze
Leaning into quiet: how camp is silent in the evening, how I have time to myself again, what it looks like to make a map of aloneness, how alone isn’t always lonely
In all of this, I feel most surely, joy.
This is the land that I love. I have never been more smitten with Montana than during larch season, and this one promises to be a good one. I hope you find the places that take your breath away & feel like home.
Take care, take courage.