It's a broad-shouldered, big hearted land this Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. Nearly a million acres on the Montana-Wyoming border, an unfathomable puzzle of high country tossed with bear and elk and moose and coyotes and wolves. A place where snow comes even in July. Where in the month of May rocks as big as school busses thunder down thousands of feet of mountainside, nudged loose by the creeping thaw of spring. Where in the bright flash of a ten-week summer the alpine meadows and sprawling tundra so common to the area erupt suddenly, utterly with wildflowers. An astonishing place. And more than that, a place critical to the grand sweep of country known as Greater Yellowstone – today the largest generally intact ecosystem in the temperate world.
As with many of the world's beautiful places, in the days of long ago this high, wide run of mountains was a sacred landscape to native peoples. Beyond raw materials for tools and clothing, here they found medicine. Here they found powerful threads of myth and story, enough to spin tales around the winter fire for thousands of years. In more recent times, in 1978, after brief flurries of mining and timbering and sheep grazing, and with civilization spreading fast across the interior West, more than nine hundred thousand acres were preserved as the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness. And thus in a modern sense, these unforgettable uplands became yet again, hallowed ground.
Gary Ferguson – August 2010