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Why Go High Altitude?

Updated: Jun 16, 2021

For millennia, wise folk have sought refuge high in the mountains. There are many reasons why this is so. For us personally, we have always had a desire to live in, and been drawn to, the mountains. Cedar smells and bird chirps filling the air, not a car or plane to hear of. This kind of privacy is almost an impossible thing these days, yet rural mountain living can often offer this type of solitude. We must ask ourselves why people have been settling at high elevations for countless centuries.

In the past, retreats at high altitudes were first and foremost religious in nature. Whether we are talking about Lhasa in Tibet, Cusco (Machu Picchu) in Peru, the Parthenon in Greece, or any Native American sacred space; temples, monasteries and places of worship have been constructed on panoramic mountaintops all over the world.

Why? After all, living at a high altitude is more difficult. A lack of oxygen as you gain elevation makes breathing more strenuous, makes the muscles work harder, makes traveling anywhere almost impossible.

The reason that mountains have always been religious is quite simple, really. It is closer to God. By that I mean the all creative, all generative force we call God. The air is purer, the water is cleaner, these places are nearly untouched by humans. It is a retreat back to nature.

In such grand places of peace, there is given the freedom of closing your eyes, taking deep breaths and meditating. In fact, in ancient buddhism, the monks would being doing this precisely for the benefit of humanity. When you take a long hike to a mountaintop, you will feel that immense sense of graciousness and prosperity when you finally reach the top!

Historically speaking, mountains were not only for spirituality though. The Hopi nation to this day, as an example, cultivate gardens on top of high mesas in Arizona. All throughout the upper part of South America one can see for themselves the lost history of high altitude farming. The same goes for China, Thailand, Bali, Indonesia, Morocco, etc. These terraces are typically thousands of years old, and still in great shape!

Why in the world would cultures purposefully grow food for their people in some of the more inaccessible areas, when many other simpler places may have served that purpose readily?

To provide you with some factual reasoning, I will refer to modern science. A lot of research studies have recently been published on this subject matter, as a simple internet search will yield these results.

Higher levels of CO2, coupled with more intense sunlight, greatly increase photosynthesis in plants. When you add the advantage of much cooler nights as well, many fruiting trees and bushes thrive in these conditions. That is why so many vineyards are mountainside! Food grown at high elevations tend to have more nutrients and taste sweeter than the same plant grown closer to sea level.

I believe that plants producing more crops and having better nutrition is why ancient cultures chose to grow for their population at high altitudes.

That being said, it is not easy to grow most plants at high elevations. That does not mean impossible! You must choose plants suited for your zone, and then take great care in creating microclimates for these specific plants. Plants may be started indoors or in cold-frames and then transplanted outside as well. With some time and experience, almost anything is possible!

Today, the elevated farmlands, terraces, temples, and monasteries of yesteryear are simply tourist attractions. Sadly, the sacredness of these areas is almost misunderstood completely. The terraces of the ancient world are covered with grass and wildflowers. The kitchen gardens of the ancient priests and priestesses are now trolley docks for tourism. The streams and reservoirs of fresh water are full of erosion and simply running dry.

The mountains are incalculable important to life on Earth. This is where we get almost all of our fresh water. The Earth needs a new generations of stewards to repair and replenish the fresh water table in the mountains before it is completely gone.

It is time we work to sanctify these glorious heights once again.

Choosing a high elevation for living full time means you will hearken back to a time when spirituality was sought in the mountains.

It also means you understand what it means to cultivate the toughest and possibly best plants the world will have to offer.

You will also have direct and positive impact on the natural fresh water of the world.

However, growing both plants and yourself at this altitude does not come without challenges, so it is certainly not for the faint of heart. Good luck to you, and know High Altitude Homestead is along for the ride.

Becoming a High Altitude Homestead will force you to grow

physically, mentally, and spiritually;

and give you the impactful life that you so desire.

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