Search the hashtag #bighornmountains on Instagram at any given moment and you’ll find that thousands of individuals are enamored with this spur of the Rockies.
I’m one of them. Over the years, I’ve taken numerous photographs featuring the Bighorns as a prominent backdrop.
In Sheridan County, it’s easy to do so. We’re blessed to be situated close enough to these mountains to enjoy them a couple different ways: recreationally or from afar. Our family is more of a “from afar” crew.
We trek up a couple times each summer to hike/fish/camp, and may do a bit of hunting in the foothills come fall, but for the most part we enjoy this expansive range as a gorgeous sightline in our day-to-day life. Our property and home offer a terrific view of the Bighorns; outside or in, anytime your gaze levels to the west or south, there they are.
Our family is anything but sedentary; we just don’t make it into the mountains that much. However, that doesn’t diminish our excitement for and support of an effort such as that of the Antelope Butte Foundation, because we are fans of family and recreation, and, most importantly, the Sheridan community as a whole.
It’s the same rationale that has us supporting the parks and pathways, the golf courses, the gun range, the Red Grade Trails System, river access, the Whitney Rink at the M&M’s Center, the skate park, the future aquatic center at the YMCA (and one day, hopefully, a competition swimming pool, as well). Our family takes advantage of these recreational opportunities to varying degrees, but we support them all, because if it’s good for Sheridan County, it’s good for us.
Mountain recreation is no different. The reopening of Antelope Butte will be a welcome addition to our community. We’ll likely ski or snowboard there at some point, but even if we don’t, the ski area is good for us because it’s good for Sheridan.
Short sightedness by citizens frays the communal fiber of a town. If each individual supports only those venues and activities that he or she directly utilizes or takes part in, it won’t take long before there is not enough collective support to sustain any one endeavor.
You’ve heard the familiar refrain, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it also takes a village to raise a village, and a village can raze a village, as well. Advocacy and optimism from the least-vested makes for a stronger whole.
The Bighorns make for a picturesque backdrop, and the continued advancement of recreational opportunities in those mountains is vital for Sheridan County’s big picture, as well.
Chase McFadden is a freelance writer, screenwriter and father of four.