During a bad fire year a few summers ago, the Forest Service closed all of the Forest Service lands in western Montana. Totally. No access, even for hiking. I was dumbfounded. It had never occurred to me that they would do that. The city of Helena even closed Mt. Helena. My refuge, my church, my place of renewal, was suddenly off-limits. It really brought home to me how much I depend on those open spaces.
I just returned from a tough two weeks coping with family issues in Massachusetts, and I sorely missed the solace of the open spaces of the west. New England is lovely – historic and green and charming – but the small patches of conservation land in the suburbs of Boston just don’t renew my spirit the way the open spaces of Montana do.
So, when the stress was getting to be too much, I just shut my eyes and went to the Centennial Valley: