After turning onto Highway 12 out of Lolo, Montana, you'll travel through winding miles of standing burned timber set in an understory of scrubby but bright green new growth. I remember a too-long stretch of summer evenings three years ago when we stood on our porch in Missoula looking at the other side of these same mountains backlit with flames coming up from the Lolo side. Night after night, we prayed for rain. And we added to collective prayers for firefighting crews, and for friends of friends who worried about the homes they had to evacuate.
Montana is an awe-inspiring place, but this butting up against the wilderness engenders a unique variety of concerns. Getting close to nature is one thing; nature reciprocating can sometimes get a little too close for comfort.