Learning to Ski, and Backcountry Ski, in one season

I used to have a soul-crushing job, working in a cubicle where I felt alienated from a cliquey work environment and, having worked in the same position for several years, oftentimes felt bored and depressed. I also did not feel like I had options to change jobs at the time, so I kept running in the hamster wheel.

One thing that kept me going was that I would keep a tiny picture of Audrey Sutherland in a obscure location near my computer monitor- it was an image of her kayaking in her tiny, inflatable kayak through the Inside Passage. I always admired her – how she would adamantly declare, “Go Simple. Go Solo. Go now.” And she would plan and prioritize and then pull the trigger and go off on some big adventure. Do it while you physically can, she would tell herself.

Like others, i struggled with depression during Covid, made worse by a very difficult time finding a job that would be a good fit for me. One thing that kept me going was by having another part of me that I could be proud of, that I could have more control over nurturing, besides the sad, tiresome experience of daily rejections of applying for jobs – that other part of me was the Adventurous Me.

There have been some medical issues in my family and others that I know, and it has really brought home to me the reality of how short life is – not just in terms of longetivity, but in terms of the quality of how we can live life. We can only physically do certain activities for so long in our lives until our bodies simply won’t be able to do them anymore. Personally, I look up to people like Dick Griffith who, at 83 years old, was still packrafting and skiing expeditions up in Alaska and the Arctic. But, really, we only have so much time and, for me, I feel like I wasted quite a lot of time in that cubicle, and wallowing in depression.

That leads me up to why I have been throwing myself into learning how to backcountry ski. The end goal is to do badass adventures like Hig and Ern (“A Long Trek Home”, Luc Mehl, Caroline Van Hemert (“The Sun is A Compass”) and others who went to really remote places, under their own power, and experienced things that many of us would only read about. I decided that I want to do those kinds of things , too, while I can, so I’m doing my best to build up my skills as quickly as possible- I don’t want to waste any more time.

To do that, I’ve hustled and bustled to find used skiing equipment, making my own repairs and modifications, looking for every way to stretch a dollar while still buying gear that I can trust and depend on in very remote areas. I drove from Seattle (where I live) to Olympia and napped in my car for a few hours in order to score a good deal on a used industrial-strength sewing machine, for example (this was when gas was under $3 a gallon!). I was able to find good deals on Craigslist and other sites, researching to find what was recommended, and then moving quickly to scoop the deal while it was still hot.

That’s the background – in the next few months I’ll be posting my experience as I learn to ski and also learn to backcountry ski. This, I know, is quite atypical to do in one season, or really two, but I feel determined and, well, I really just don’t want to waste any more time to make my dreams to do remote adventures come true. I’ll write more about my experiences as I move forward…

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