Thoughts from the clouds

What follows is a mid-winter, in-flight contemplation of the past year making life work in Alaska.

kingSomewhere high over the decomposing remnants of granite rock near the California/Arizona line, above the lonesome desert ridges and salt flats of the southwest, a seemingly indifferent landscape instills something inspiring and contemplative in me.   I realize it’s the first time in a few months I’ve really been able to take stock of my winter, the time on the planks with snow underfoot, my neglect of ski brethren and the realization that this winter has been a harsh one. Harsh is a relative term, and one not only used as a way to describe simply snow conditions or the weather. No, harsh is the reality describing every facet of the past year of my life. the cross Of course, I still have my health, the support of an amazing woman, great friends, and in general the amazing life I live every day, so really what do I have to complain about?  Nothing I guess.

I’ve worked harder the last year of my life than ever before.  In some ways I’ve attained amazing things and in others I feel robbed, and burned out.  I finished a master’s program in April, started a new business, tried to support my wife’s new business any way I could, pushed for the statewide progression of trails in Alaska, all while juggling the daily shitshow that comes with attempting to live life to the fullest.  That means a life full of expectations both good and bad while admitting that things are changing and moving along at exponentially increasing rates the likes of which, as a young child, my father’s warnings could do no justice.  He was right.
big light HP Tree Ski

abeDeadlines, commitments, aspirations, sweeping realizations, they’re all part of life; even our most basic motive for escaping to slide on snow or pedal our bikes.  In a rare and upsetting way, each week since the end of November has gone by without even a hint of an update on my website, and seeing that it’s now mid-February, it kills me.  I’ve had but a few ski days, and honestly, hell, I can count my backcountry days this season on less than 10 fingers.  That’s garbage, pure nonsense and it sucks.

The compass of life is beginning to swing.  It still holds true north, but my bearing has changed. Instead of the defined path I thought I had chosen, alternative routes of existence never thought possible are panning out before me like the view of a hidden valley from a high peak. I’m choosing to walk the path, undefined as it is, through that newly discovered valley. For me, it’s about accepting those changes that we like to pretend are out of our control. Out of our control? If only it were that simple. I’m done believing it. We are in control.  WE choose the life we want to live, and to admit this is to begin to understand how precious and amazing our days spent in the mountains are.
BrianNo matter how we look at it, there’s far too little days spent in the mountains skiing powder. Far too many shoulda, coulda and woulda’s. But what about those other days?  How do we fill our time out of the mountains? This is a question people should think about long and hard.  It can’t just be about selfishly getting after it and chasing pow? Those days we spend at home with the family, or earning those extra bucks, or putting in the extra free time to help make your community a better place, those are the things that make my days on the mountains matter. It’s a hard days work that lets you really feel the drop of a knee into boot deep blower.  It’s paying off a stubborn bill that earns you a high five and ear to ear smiles with your closest buds after a thousand feet of Rae Wallace darkness. And, it’s getting your shit together, rolling with the punches of life and sharing that 6 hour tour with your partner. Its knowing not many couples can experience this kind of relationship, or what kind of love that is.  That’s the point of this update.

This past year has been hard, and it’s taken its toll at times, and I should expect nothing else.  This life chosen is not without consequence, and for the first time, I’ve lost a bit of that youthfully exuberant prospect of constant vagabond transience, of looking beyond the horizon of the chugach range to future hypothetical residences, or the next big adventure.   Maybe that constant tickle in our brains stems from the reason that, Alaska is, at its core a transient place, and I say that with no slight to friends who we love, who have left, and who plan to leave.  It’s just the facts of life here in the 49th state.  It’s so amazingly difficult to suppress that overwhelming feeling of movement, of lingering American manifest destiny, of peaking over the next hill.  It’s a part of the human condition, and something that’s brought us to the far ends of the earth, to the very mountain ranges we love to play, live and often die within.

There’s a fear of being defined by what we have done, and a constant, incessant focusing on what we WILL do.  We don’t want to peak.  We must move on.  This hypothetical lifestyle is  When the time comes to listen to that voice of Kerouac wanderlust, if it comes, I’ll embrace it, but for now I choose, like so many others, to accept this amazing valley, this place Erin and I call home, this community that has become such an integral part of our life, and the amazing life we get to share with all of you, no matter how fractioned and separate the timelines and ideas of our lives are.  I doubt Steinbeck would’ve had much to say about the people of Palmer when pulling off the Glenn highway for a rest at the fairgrounds.  But we know better.

There’s something about this little community that cuts to the core, and part of that is the support I get from everyone while NOT updating HatchYourTrax.  I can’t promise all the updates to be so heady, or even filled with amazing descriptions of ski movie style descents. I can tell you that it’s time to get back in to the groove of things.  If we meet in the hills, or along the path of life somewhere, stop and say hello, slow down and share a moment with your fellow ski brethren. I’m always down to share a smile and a handshake. We’re all in the same boat, just trying to live this simple life the best damn way we know how. Much love and see you all in the mountains

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