“I still live in the sticks where you wouldn’t go, in a town of twelve hundred off an old dirt road…”Aaron Lewis
The Mountain isn’t “wilderness,” but it’s wilder than what most folks are accustomed to. Farms, homes and homesteads in the surrounding area are pretty spread out, leaving most of the land untraveled and largely untrampled.
Access is typical of the rural American Heartland. Roads are narrow and twisting, not all of them paved — in the six miles we travel between the state highway and The Mountain are a few rough patches. And we cross two “low-water bridges” often impassable after heavy rains.
As I observed of a certain remote settlement in northwest Montana, this isn’t the sort of place one passes through on the way to somewhere else. You either mean to be there, belong there, or you don’t.
No matter the season or the time of day, our short, intentional drive from the closest town — Yellville, population 1,200 — to The Mountain is an experience in itself. It serves as a buffer between the outside world and the American Life we prefer.
The paved county road descends sharply from the state route to trace the edge of a fertile valley, with pasture land to our left and wooded hillsides on the right, before climbing again. As it crests a rise we jog onto a gravel road, following that for a mile to reach the rough dirt track up to The Mountain.
A couple of days ago, just after we made the turn onto gravel, a pair of whitetail does dashed in front of us. A few hundred yards later we had to bring the Jeep to a complete stop as seven deer crossed our path. We smiled.
Hunters have reason to smile, too, of course — it’s deer gun season. In fact, Deb’s cousin took a ten-point buck on The Mountain last week.
Wildlife abounds. The terrain can be unforgiving. It’s easy to get away in those woods, and it’s almost as easy to get lost.
Just six miles — that’s the buffer. That’s what holds the world at arm’s length from the wonderful place we’ve come to call “The Mountain.”
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.