Thursday, October 1, 2009

Born In The Summer Of My 60th Year...

Perhaps it has taken me longer to be "reborn" than it did for John Denver in his hit song "Rocky Mountain High"...but I'm sure the feeling is just as refreshing, and life just as good.

Now, I grew up in the farm country of west-central Illinois, in an area that sits close to the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers...where the elevation is only about 650 feet above sea level. So, it may seem a bit odd that a "flatlander" would undertake a blog that focuses on the outdoor lifestyle of the Northern Rockies. But, just because I wasn't physically born here...or didn't grow up here...doesn't mean I cannot consider this part of the country as "home".

I was 15 years old the first time I ever laid eyes on the mountains of the West, during a hunting trip to Wyoming. And all I can say is that I was awestruck. Photos I had seen of the mountains did not do the country justice. I had fallen in love, and knew that someday I would live where I could see the mountains every day.

It just took 45 more years to make it happen.

And now from where I live in the Missoula Valley of western Montana, I can look out the front window and gaze up into the Bitterroot Mountains...or walk out onto the back deck and look right up into an off-shoot of the Rockies - the Garnet Range.

By the time I had enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968, I knew every tree, every plant, every species of bird and other wildlife in the Midwest better than 90-percent of the older folks who had lived their entire lives there. And relearning all of that here will take a few years, but I truly look forward to the challenge. A single week does not go by that I fail to spend several days out in the wilds, enjoying this magnificent country.

Hopefully, some of you with the same love of the mountains will find this blog, and will freely share what you have learned - whether you are a third...fourth...or fifth generation native of the Northern Rockies, or a more recent wanderer who has just found their way "home".

Toby Bridges
Missoula, MT


About the photo: While camping this past summer, in the Bitterroots near Darby, after a night of rain at about 7,000 feet, I was up early the next morning, and took this photo as a warming sun hit a cold mountain lake, causing a burst of fog to rise and fill the surrounding timber. (Click on photo to enlarge.)


  1. Great Blog Toby. I have always enjoyed reading your writing.

  2. Thanks...I started this one just for fun...since everything else is so serious...but cannot forget the difficult times we live in...and those willing to gamble the last 75 to 100 years of hard wildlife conservation.

    Toby Bridges