Whether it's the loping blue hills of Appalachia rising from a morning mist or the majesty of Alaska's Mt. McKinley piercing the clouds, mountains bring me peace. The clichés come to life: The steely rock seems solid and safe, the sheer size of each pinnacle a reminder of personal insignificance. But it's the simple beauty of frosted peaks against a luminescent blue sky that is the best soother, a martini and a hand smoothed across the brow rolled into one.
The most potent tranquilizer: recollections of a visit to New Zealand's Southern Alps. Covering nearly two-thirds of New Zealand's South Island, the Alps run from north to south, from wine country to the jagged battlegrounds of Middle-earth and fiords of the south.
With spaceship-like lenticular clouds glowing overhead, we drove past green fields of countless sheep and azure lakes of melted ice untouched by construction. At Mt. Cook, the summit of the range, we flew on a ski-equipped plane onto a glacier 12,000 feet in the sky.
The ice crunched beneath our boots, the indescribable scent of pure clean air chilled our noses. We were truly on top of the world.
Because that was not enough, my husband and I arranged a helicopter ride that swept us high into the ice-crusted crags, then swooped over the edge of a waterfall before landing us on Earth, safely nested in the sheltering peaks.
When the day goes wrong, I think about the view outside our treehouse lodge window, deer grazing in the meadow below, the snow-dusted mountains standing guard just beyond, and I know a better time is ahead.