As my good friend Dave wrote, the Rocky Mountain Front exists on both the edges of the wild terrain of W. Montana and the rolling golden prairies of E. Montana. Where these two areas meet, the verticality appears as if it was violently thrust up from the plains - I suppose this is a fairly accurate description of it's geographic history. The result is a savage range, with sharp limestone and strong weather patterns. My father, a pilot, describes this area as having some of the most unique weather patterns in the country; generally, it's a good idea to avoid it's unpredictable nature when soaring high above on a set of wings.

To me, the area triggers the sensation of home. This elusive feeling has been well documented and reflected upon by many. It's seems to be attached to people, things, places, moments in time.

I suppose being back on the Front touches upon all of these. The familiarity of the topography, the feel of sharp limestone talus under feet, and the beauty of a sunrise/sunset all conjure this sensation. 

An even larger part of the perception of home, is attached to the communities here and the people that inhabit them. The majority possess a grounded sense of reality, strong values, and simply put - are aware of the need to have a good time during this short walk on earth.

Primarily, being back home involves a sense of freedom that I've yet to tap into elsewhere. Whether it's a booze fueled rip down a washboarded country road, pulling the car over in the middle of a lonely highway to enjoy the silence and beauty of a landscape, or throwing the sleeping bag anywhere ya please - there remains a feeling of truly being in the Wild West, where normal rules don't apply and freedom soars.

The beautiful color palate of an early spring sure does help to amplify these feelings. This mix of soft colors is somehow a perfect compliment to the contrasting ruggedness of the Front.

Exploring this area and experiencing these feelings with close friends makes for a terrific weekend. Dave is a soul that lets mountains speak to him; his eyes see a savage beauty in the terrain and the possibilities that lie within. 

Investigating these possibilities requires a skill set and mentality that Dave possesses; the ability to see potential, investigate it, and have the confidence and good decision making to commit. Also, to be able to smile during yet another alder branch slap to the face.

At the bottom of a good shred line, I get to see a smile on Dave's face that is made up of all of the above. It's a smile that summarizes the effort, uncertainty, beauty, commitment, and exhilaration of our chosen passion. Dave's a happy dude and generally always very positive... but the 'bottom of the run' smile is something reserved for exactly that experience and not to be found elsewhere. 

In that moment, the very same smile is mirrored on my own face - and, most importantly, is always followed by high-fives.