Why living in the mountains makes a difference

Everywhere you go, there you are.

Life is difficult, and none of us can run away from our problems. Sure, the odd “geographical cure” now and again can be a good thing, but regardless of where we live, whatever stresses us out tends to follow us around.

Even if you move from the city to the mountains or the ocean, some of what ails you will follow. But living somewhere that inspires you can make life just a little bit easier sometimes.

That’s why I moved to the mountains.

One of the many reasons I live in the mountains... Photo - D'Arcy McLeish
One of the many reasons I live in the mountains. Photo: Courtesy of D’Arcy McLeish www.iescape.com
In my late 20s, after traveling around the world a little, I attempted to get a “real” job and live what quickly became an uninspired existence. So, after a few months in an office job, I pulled out a map of the world and sat down to decide where I wanted to live.

I didn’t think about work opportunities or living costs. I made the decision based purely on the things that brought me joy: mountains, skiing, climbing, the ocean and my mountain bike. Everything else —writing, reading books, studying new things, all of that — I knew could be done anywhere.

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So I studied that map.

To be able to do this on a regular basis is what makes us feel rich inside. Photo - Reuben Krabbe
To be able to do this on a regular basis is what makes us feel rich inside. Photo: Courtesy of Reuben Krabbe Peter Dazeley / Getty Images
There were a few exotic places that cropped up, but I kept coming back to the South Coast of British Columbia. B.C. has it all: mountains, oceans, cities.

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And in this great province, the South Coast — or, more specifically, the Sea to Sky Corridor between Squamish and Pemberton — has pretty much everything I love: good skiing, epic mountain biking, ocean sports, river sports, vibrant communities. And all of it is close to a major metropolitan area.

Photo - Dave Silver
How much better could life be? Photo: Courtesy of Dave Silver Rural Retreat Holidays
I packed up everything I owned into my little Volkswagen and drove west, this time for a permanent change and not a ski or climbing trip. I didn’t know how I was going to make a living or pay rent; I just knew that I wanted to live in the mountains.

Everything else came on a little faith and a bit of positive thinking. What a ride it’s been since then.

It’s not easy following your heart, but it’s worth it.

From the mountains to the sea, BC has got everything. Including bald eagles that fly straight toward you on walks with the dog. Photo - D'Arcy McLeish
From the mountains to the sea, B.C. has got everything — including bald eagles that fly straight toward you on walks with the dog. Photo: Courtesy of D’Arcy McLeish
I’m not rich, at least not financially, but I make ends meet, and I get to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I spend my days on my skis or my bike; I climb, I paddle and I swim. And I love every minute of it.

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Sure, I work, but I’ve managed to make work something to look forward to. I ski patrol, I write, I hang on ropes and I ride my bike. None of it pays that much, but it does pay enough.

Living somewhere that inspires you takes the hard edge of the harder things in life. Photo - D'Arcy McLeish
Life is difficult enough. Living somewhere that inspires you takes the edge off a little. Photo: Courtesy of D’Arcy McLeish Airbnb
We all have our problems, our challenges and our trials. How we deal with those things is what defines us. From my limited experience, though, I’ve found it just a little easier to deal with life if I live in a place that I love.

That doesn’t mean you need to move to the ocean or the mountains; maybe your inspiration comes from the urban landscape or the vast, open prairie. But if you can find a place that puts a fire in your belly, then you are winning, my friend.

Be safe, ski hard.

—D’Arcy Mcleish

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