The following comes from the introduction of Capital W: Forever Wild, Forever Free. This multimedia installation is the first part to the Sierra Club’s Oral History Project of the Gallatin Range. Featuring the voices of the Bozeman community, our short film will immerse you in the seasonal changes of the magnificent Gallatin Range.
The installation is open daily, from Monday, May 4 to Friday, May 8. A reception will be held Tuesday, May 5 from 5 pm – 8 pm, with a Q&A with the director and producer at 6:30 pm. Join us at the Exist Gallery, at Montana State University (in the Strand Union Building)!
The first time I saw Hyalite, I was breathless. It was late evening, mid-May, and the road had just opened. The trees still had snow, the reservoir still frozen, the snowcapped mountains silhouetted, and the soft glow from the sunset peaked through the clouds. Our small fire kept us warm as we drank wine, watching the changing night sky. I felt like I was in a fairy tale- a true winter wonderland.
Over the next few months I would venture further, beyond Hyalite, hiking to Mount Blackmore, frolicking in the wildflowers of Windy Pass, backpacking to Ramshorn Lake, and cross country skiing to the frozen waterfalls along Hyalite Creek. These landmarks make up the Gallatin Range, running from Yellowstone National Park to Bozeman’s beloved Hyalite.
The diversity is what makes the Gallatin Range so special. It is the backyard to those of us from Bozeman to Big Sky, and Livingston to Gardiner. We spend countless hours exploring the drainages, climbing peaks, fishing and hunting, and hiking among bright wildflowers. We depend on its watershed for clean drinking water. But it is also home to 38 species on the state of Montana’s Species of Concern list, including wolves and grizzly bears, and allows for a critical north-south migration. The Gallatin River is a blue ribbon trout stream.
In 1977, the heart of the Range, a 155,000-acre plot, was designated the Hyalite Porcupine Buffalo Horn Wilderness Study Area in hopes that it would eventually be designated as Wilderness and protected for future generations. With a history as complicated as its name, the Range has no permanent designation, and its fate in limbo.
Wilderness is more than a designation on a map; it is an escape from the mundane, and a chance to feel alive and free from societal expectations. Wilderness is the compilation of stories, those moments of challenges and triumphs. Wilderness is protecting the untrammeled, for future generations.
Capital W: Forever Wild, Forever Free, explores this idea. We interviewed prominent members of the community on their thoughts on the Gallatins and wilderness, and feature their voices in this short film. These interviews will be part of a longer film, out this summer.
We invite you to interact with our installation. Be inspired, be empowered, and be free.
We all have our “first time” moments. I’ve told you mine; what’s yours?
Kiersten Iwai is the Associate Organizing Rep for the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign. She is based in Bozeman, MT. Questions or comments? Contact her at Kiersten.firstname.lastname@example.org or call, 406 582 8365.