The Lure of the Mountains
Visiting mountainous locations has been a popular practice for decades (or even longer in some cases), and for good reason. The mountain landscape has always held a special place in the hearts of mankind, partly due to the ease of returning to our simpler roots during mountain visits. As a nature photographer, the call of the mountains and meadows is simply impossible to resist.
But that can’t be all there is to the lure of the mountains, right?
The appeal of mountain areas is complex, with many factors and unique circumstances playing an important role in convincing people to keep visiting again and again.
Let’s explore what makes mountain scenery and visits to mountainous sites such a popular piece of natural life.
Why Do People Like Mountains?
Providing a pleasant change from the standard environment people usually spend their days navigating through is one of the most effective ways the mountains lure in people looking for a quick escape. For myself, everything about the mountains stirs wonder and joy in my soul, from the majestic mountain views and sprawling meadows of wildflowers to the fresh air, solitude and feeling of closeness to the sky.
Here are some other elements, for example, that provide mountain visitors with pleasant experiences that make the entire trip worthwhile.
The Simple Joy of Mountains
For people who live in urban or semi-urban areas, there’s a special joy that comes from taking a trip to the mountains. Whether you’re planning on spending a few days or only a couple of hours away from home, visiting the mountains can be an effective way to unplug from the day-to-day hassles of life.
Taking a break in nature frees visitors from the fast-paced world they’re used to and provides them with a sense of peace. The noise pollution of the city is gone, they’re not being constantly jostled by the people around them, and the lack of buildings and sidewalks provides a welcome change of scenery.
In addition to taking advantage of a simpler way of life, even if only for a short time, the tranquility and isolation significantly enhance the lure of the mountains.
People who spend time in the mountains can experience a completely different environment, where the sounds of car horns and random shouting are replaced with the chatter of nature. Birds calling, the breeze blowing through the trees, babbling brooks, and the snapping of twigs underfoot are significantly less bothersome than the alternatives.
Visiting the mountains presents people with the time and tranquility they need to hear themselves think and process thoughts and feelings they’ve kept pent up for weeks or even months.
There’s no real schedule to adhere to, and in many cases, the number of established trails available to explore promises some interesting sights, thorough exercise, and the ability to recharge.
That Fresh Mountain Air
Nobody likes breathing in smog, car pollution, and stale air. As such, a trip to higher-altitude areas can be incredibly refreshing. Getting away from populated neighborhoods and cities also means getting away from air contamination in most cases. Visiting the mountains and breathing in the fresh air has a way of making people feel cleaner, lighter, and generally healthier.
Even though we can’t determine the difference in the air quality at a glance from one location to another (except in severely smoggy areas), mountain air feels different than urban air. Taking a deep breath in the mountains feels significantly more refreshing and revitalizing than taking a deep breath in the middle of a crowded street.
Where The Wild Things Are
If you spend your time in the mountains moving slowly and quietly down the trails, you’ll likely happen upon members of the area's unique wildlife population. Seeing living things taking care of themselves and moving about in their day-to-day lives can be an incredibly peaceful experience.
Watching deer frolic about the brush, birds building nests, and small woodland creatures collecting food from the trees above is often a nice change when compared with the repetitive elements of your day that you’ve grown tired of seeing.
If you have never experienced a screaming and shoving match between a group of energetic marmots, you are really missing out. Depending on where you are, you may wind up with a starring role in your very own National Geographic Special. Just don't be an idiot.
The Inspiration of Mountains
Like many things that bring people a sense of peace, mountains are often the focus or inspiration behind dynamic and invigorating works of art.
Because we can’t always drop everything and head off to the mountains every time we feel that we need a break from everyday life, looking at a piece of art that inspires the same feelings as the mountain environment is the next best thing.
People display paintings and pieces of professional nature and landscape photography in their homes and offices that remind them of nature and bring to mind the comforting memories made during their past mountain visits. While looking at a piece of artwork isn’t always as effective as visiting a real place, a well-made piece can almost feel like bringing a piece of the mountains home.
This move is similar to the practice of looking at a photograph when you miss someone. It’s not the same as having the person there with you, but observing that person’s likeness helps induce the feelings you usually experience when you spend time with that person. You think about what makes that person so special to you, the joy they bring, the value of your time together, the way the person recharges you emotionally, and the unique things you experience as a pair.
A Welcome Change
At the end of the day, the lure of the mountains has so much to do with these locations being so different from what we’re used to. Something we don’t get to see or experience often is usually going to help us associate positively with the location because the negative elements of our lives are far away.
Fresh air weighed against pollution yields an easy winner. Choosing between tranquility and constant noise isn’t hard, either. Taking your time and exploring new things feels a lot better than being rushed through things you don’t want to do in the first place.
As such, the mountains, by their very nature, provide us with an opportunity to rest and recover effectively. When we take this opportunity in an area that’s the polar opposite of the environment that exhausts us, we want to experience the same benefits again in the future.