WHEN MY WIFE AND I CRESTED THE FINAL mound of trail approaching Gneiss Lake in Montana’s Tobacco Root Mountains, the beauty of the jagged granite walls briefly halted us. Below, concentric circles of slow-rising cutthroat trout pocked Gneiss’ surface, and the click-clack of bounding mountain...

THUNDER BOOMED AND LIGHTNING STRUCK the valley below. Rain strafed the exposed granite ridge in windy gyres, but only briefly. Remnant water drops glinted on the chalet windows — fool’s gold in the setting sun — and a deceptive rainbow appeared to the west over...

If you don’t believe Montana was once a land of skyscrapers, ask the wind. Decades ago, the infinite huff of the mountains and the high plains was raked by more skyscrapers than soar today in any major city. Everywhere across Montana they stood: tall, slope-shouldered, wooden...

Usually it goes like this. I’m skiing in the backcountry, up Bear Canyon east of Bozeman or along one of the Yellowstone Park trails off U.S. Route 191 south of Big Sky. Much of the time I have the trail to myself, but occasionally I’ll run...