Thinking Like A Mountain

This week’s blog was written by Devin G., a Bucktails alumni. He writes about what one can learn from thinking like a mountain.

When thinking about mountains, many picture towering palisades of stone and soil, unmoving and unresponsive to the outside world. Throughout history mountains have been seen as obstacles and hindrances, simply there to be tunneled through or utilized to extract resources. These views only skim the surface of what it means to be a mountain. Mountains are eternal beings, formed before the dawn of man, and are constantly changing from the effects of time and other natural factors. To be a mountain means to be imperturbable, omniscient, and objective, while also being vulnerable to adversity. Although one cannot become a mountain, one can learn to think like a mountain.

Part of the ranch we visited where conservation is a key component of managing the land.

As I learned during my class field week in the Medicine Bow Mountain Range in Wyoming, thinking like a mountain is not as straightforward as one might believe. Through the many experiences we shared as a class, I was able to see the world from a different view, the viewpoint of a mountain. When I read the words of Aldo Leopold, I was struck by how interconnected the natural world is and how, to make beneficial decisions, one must consider every aspect of nature that will be affected by your choices. This lesson was reinforced when we visited a sustainable ranch, where we learned about the processes of running a farmstead in an environmentally friendly manner. For example, water usage is becoming a greater conflict due to climate change and the ranch is considering a variety of options to combat this issue. Most of their solutions focus on the long-term conservation and storage of water which may oppose the social and cultural pressure to use less water and disrupt the natural cycles which replenish aquifers. By considering the big picture and long-term natural effects, the ranch demonstrates how to think like a mountain.

Me standing in front of one of the gap lakes in Medicine Bow National Forest.

As part of the field week, we also participated in many other educational and environmental activities. We spent a morning hiking the Snowy Range, marveling at the natural beauty that surrounded us. Discussing the impacts of erosion we were able to see the effects of wind, water, and glaciers which helped shape the land around us. We also learned about the effects of human activities on wildlife migrations after attending a presentation by the Wyoming Migration Initiative. There I learned about the many obstacles ungulates face as they trek from their summer to winter grounds. Developments, oil fields, highways, and fences all present challenges to these migrations. By tracking these migrations and protecting bottleneck areas, the Wyoming Migration Initiative can mitigate these hardships.

Our view of sunrise after a morning hike.

Overall this field week allowed me to open my mind to many new ideas and allowed me to partake in new experiences that I could only dream of. The theme of thinking like a mountain means so much more than one would think. It means looking at the world as a system where every part needs to be protected. We can all take part in conserving our natural world by following the wise words of Aldo Leopold and thinking like a mountain.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.