Place Where You Live:

Bitterroot Valley, Montana

"For one to fly, one needs only to take the reins." - Melissa James

It was a turning point in my life; a transition zone. I knew that I needed to be near mountains. I needed their adventure, wilderness, forests, streams and stability. I needed to be like the mountains. It was time to move away from my eastern home and stand alone as the mountains have for millennia. And so I chose the Bitterroot valley, Montana. All adventures are better when shared and so a dog and horse joined my journey.

There, in the Bitterroot Mountains I fell in love. I fell in love with the landscape, with the rugged peaks and rolling foothills, with the braiding Bitterroot River and glowing fields of grasses. As a guide, I was able to share this love with others from the back of a horse. My horse focused on keeping us stable along our path and I was free to sweep the countryside. Magical things happen when you aren’t busy looking at your feet. You see frost beginning to melt on the fruit of a thimbleberry, a shy black bear peeking at your pack string from behind a ponderosa, or the blurred outline of a wild horse herd on the next hillside.

I also fell in love with a community culture. For the first time in my life, I felt completely captivated with a place and its people. There are many places in this world where people live because they have to, dependent on work or relationships for example. However, in this place I felt that people lived here because they wanted to, they too had fallen in love with this place. Love, work, and the other confounding variables that affect our lives had become the dependent variables. The radiating care and respect for the Bitterroot valley is what makes it so incomparably special for all those who call it home. My hope is for this passion to persevere. A passion that is shown by community members of all ages, who want nothing more than to explore their mountains, their home.