I lived in a small town in the mountains for over two decades. Living in the mountains means living a different life than most people do. You're far away from civilization, you don't have all the same modern conveniences that most people do. You're surrounded by nature and the seasons can be harsher than other places. Stepping outside means taking a fresh breath of air every day, seeing a blue sky or the stars when you look up, and sometimes finding a wild animal in your yard. It means being surrounded by trees and sometimes being a long distance from neighbors.
Here's a list of things that only people who have lived in the mountains will understand.
Flatlanders do not know what the term flatlander means. Their ways are different. They drive slow on the curvy roads, they get scared of looking down cliffs, they don't know how to drive in the fog, and watching them trying to function in the mountains is hilarious.
2. Every Day Gives You A Breath-taking View Of Nature
That view never grows old.
While most people I've met have to drive to get to hiking trails where they can be surrounded by nature, I usually just walked through the woods near to my house.
You wake-up in the morning to the sounds of birds chirping outside your window.
You don't have the distraction of city lights competing with the stars and moon in the sky. You can easily go stargazing. I was often left in awe just driving around the mountains at night. It was so beautiful.
There are creeks you can probably walk to from your house and lakes in your area that you can go swimming in.
There are trees everywhere. You hear the sounds of animals at night. There were so many times I heard the sounds of coyotes howling in excitement because they just caught their prey.
When it freshly snows, the snow twinkles in the sun like millions of diamonds and it feels like you're in Alaska.
Looking down the mountain is just as breath-taking as well. You have a better view of the sunset than other people. When the clouds are low, it looks like the mountain is an island and those white clouds that are blocking your view of the city are actually ocean waves. When it's a clear night and you're looking at the stars, you can see a similar display reflected in the city lights below.
You feel lucky to be witnessing things that some people might never see.
3. What It's Like To See A Bear Up Close
Everyone who has lived in the mountains has seen a bear in their yard at one point in time. It's both thrilling and terrifying to be that close to nature.
The closest I have ever been to a bear was when I went to a local summer camp for a week and we played a giant game of hide-and-seek. Me and another girl were hiding with one of the counselors. No one had found us, even though an hour or two had passed.
Through the trees, about twenty feet away, we noticed a bear walking around on all fours. The counselor told us to freeze and not move and just wait for the bear to pass. So we did.
It approached us pretty close and my heart was pounding so hard. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. But it walked right past us.
4. Driving On Windy and Unpaved Roads Every Day
It's much easier to learn to drive a car when you don't live in the mountains because you get to drive on streets that don't curve much.
Roads, in the mountains,are made to fit into the rock, no matter how curvy or steep that rock is. Some roads are even built on the side of mountains using stilts. And some roads aren't paved at all.
Driving and riding around in the mountain is no joke. It can make a lot of people carsick and I remember people who didn't live in the mountains saying that it felt like riding a roller coaster to drive around where I lived.
One of my favorite things was during the summer when my Dad would take the top off of his old, used Jeep and drive us down the dirt roads with my hair flying in my face.
5. Being Able To Look Down The Mountain And See Cars The Size Of Ants
I was always fascinated by that. They look so small when you are so high up. I was never afraid of it, but I had some relatives who screamed when they saw how far down the other cars were.
6. Stilts That Hold Up Houses And Highways Thousands Of Feet In The Air
One of the most important thing in any mountain is stilts because there is hardly any flat ground available to build houses on. I'll admit that I was happy when my family moved into a house that didn't have stilts, but the view, if you live in a house on stilts, is amazing!
It's something that's really hard for people to picture living in if they've never been in the mountains, but pretty common place for people who live in the mountains.
7. The Danger Of Walking Down A Steep Driveway After It Has Snowed
Because most of the land in mountains isn't flat, most of the driveways are steep. It's the worst thing ever when there is snow and ice. I was already clumsy to begin with, but I found it impossible to walk down steep driveways with ice on them.
My husband and I lived in a house for a year with a steep driveway and one night, even though he put the parking brake on, we woke up to see that his car had slid all the way down into the road.
A Must-Have For Anyone Who Lives In The Mountains And Isn't Lucky Enough To Own A Snowblower
8. That Firewood Is Way Overpriced
In the mountains, there are so many trees, so people will chop them up and give away firewood for free. Now, whenever I see firewood that costs money somewhere, I laugh.
9. What It Sounds Like When A Tree Falls
Most people don't know what this sounds like. They have, maybe, one tree in their front yard and it's been there for years and is not going anywhere. But when you live in the mountains, you have hundreds of trees in your yard and sometimes things happen to them.
Sometimes they die and need to be cut down. It can be entertaining when you're sitting inside to listen as the trees are cut down and make that loud, booming noise when they hit the ground, that shakes the earth.
And then there's the scarier ones, that get uprooted from the wind. In the time I lived in the mountains, two trees fell on my garage and two more fell on my house. One of them went through my bedroom window while I was sitting in my room, but luckily, I remained unharmed. I'll never forget how loud the noise of the tree falling in my room was or the shattering sound of the glass from my window.
10. Most Of The Houses Surrounding You Are Vacation Homes
People don't like to live in the mountains usually, they like to vacation there. So there's a lot of rich people who have second homes in the mountains that they rarely visit. So even if your house is located next to a lot of other houses, like mine was when I lived in the mountains, it was like a partial ghost town because most people were hardly ever there.
11. Tourists Making Everything Crowded During Holidays
Like I said, people don't like to live in the mountains, they prefer to vacation there. So you get used to your small town life with very few people and then a holiday comes around and suddenly there's a bunch of people around.
12. Watching People Who Play In Dirty Snow
When you see snow all the time, you learn to only play in the fresh snow-the kind that is white, clean, and sparkles in the sun.
But most people who visit will wait until the roads are clear, when there's only small patches of snow here or there. By that time, most of the snow is covered in dirt and rocks. A lot of it has been run over and walked on repeatedly. It's brown and gross.
But some people who aren't locals will play in it anyway. It makes you wince.
13. The Pain Of Sledding And Running Into A Tree
Running into a tree with your sled is awful. First, there's the impact of your sled hitting the tree and you possibly hitting the tree as well going pretty fast. Then there's the part that follows where all the heavy snow on the tree falls because of the force you hit the tree with and lands painfully on your body.
It gives you a tiny glimpse of how horrifying it must be to be caught in an avalanche.
The Best Thing To Go Sledding On, Hands Down, Has Always Been An Inner-tube
14. Protecting Your Pets From Coyotes
Bears don't usually bother eating pets. They prefer trash.
Coyotes, on the other hand, seem to always be hunting for your pets. It's why you can't let them out at night.
I had both cats and dogs when I lived in the mountains and every once in awhile we'd hear all the coyotes, with their high pitch cackles, getting excited about something. It would always effect my pets. My cats would get hysterical and start hissing and growling viciously. My dogs would howl along with the coyotes, wanting to join their pack. (Little do they know, they'd likely get eaten.)
I lost one of my cats to a coyote.
15. Watching Things Expand And Explode As You Drive Up The Mountain
In the mountains, there is lower air pressure because of the elevation. This caused things with air in them to expand.
This means, all our potato chip bags were huge and puffed up. You could just press on them and they'd pop as they opened. Some people I knew preferred to open them that way.
Also, you can't drive up the mountains with balloons because they explode by the time you get to the top. I learned this the hard way as a child.
16. Needing Your Ears To Pop
This drove me crazy. While I loved traveling down the mountain and visiting normal civilization, it could get really uncomfortable when my ears needed to pop and didn't. The change in the air pressure system is sometimes difficult for your ears to adjust to and unless they pop, it can be slightly painful and very difficult to hear anything.
17. The Smell Of All Your Neighbors Using Their Fireplaces
This is the best smell in the world. I love the fog and I enjoy nature. It was a lot of fun to go in my backyard on a foggy day, just looking at the trees with the smell of people's chimneys in the air.
It gives you a warm feeling, like drinking a warm drink, like tea or hot chocolate.
I do miss the smell of fireplaces now that I'm not in the mountains anymore. This is the closest I'm going to get to that smell.
18. Everyone's House Either Is Or Used To Be A Log Cabin
The houses in the mountains are always old-fashioned and most of them used to be or still are log cabins. Probably because so many people want to have vacation homes up there and think log cabins belong in the mountains.
19. Being Evacuated Because Of A Fire
There's always this little bit of fear when you live in the mountains that something disastrous will happen and you'll be cut off from society. Usually there's only one to two ways to get up and down the mountain, so if something were to happen to those paths, you might get trapped in a dangerous situation, like what happened earlier this year in Tennessee.
Because mountains are so full of trees, they are very flameable. If you've lived in the mountains for any length of time, you'll eventually be evacuated due to a wildfire or effected by a fire in some way.
I was evacuated many times in those two decades and even had a house that burned down.
20. If You Go Far Enough Into Your Front Or Backyard, You Might Get Lost In The Trees
Because I am a fantasy writer, it made me feel sometimes like I was in a fantasy novel. There's something magical about the forest. It's so beautiful and it feels like a place you could easily escape to, to get away from all your troubles.
It was really neat, but also scary, how easy it would be to wander around the woods near my house and get lost. This is why I had to be really careful when going on nature walks and try to stick to landmarks or paths that the neighborhood already established.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on January 20, 2017:
The closest to this I have ever been is being on holiday in Switzerland or on a mountain in Austria. I love the experience ever since as a child I read the book Heidi. You've described everything in this hub that I can even smell the fireplaces.