I just spent every free moment of the past 32 hours of my life hunched over a computer screen with terrible posture, until after the moon had risen and my eyelids were barely strong enough to stay above my bloodshot eyeballs, researching skis. No, not collecting data in a spreadsheet for a job or writing an article or reading some sort of e-book. Just perusing every review I could find on whether a fully rockered ski could actually be stable on steep, hard-packed snow, and deciding if I really want a flat tail. Sure—if it’s primarily for touring and backcountry, why not?
This feels like the biggest decision I’ve had to make in a long time. The last time being when I found a job, hopped in an old truck, and moved up to Alaska for the summer. And that verdict really wasn’t a hard one for me to come to; it was more a matter of simply finding someone who would pay me money once I got up there.
I guess your average individual wouldn’t be so concerned about a pair of skis. I have a lot of friends from high school and college who are making actual big decisions: getting engaged and planning weddings, taking offers for real-world jobs, deciding which house to buy because they’re having a kid soon. And here I am, procrastinating on articles I need to be writing because I can’t decide between 108mm or 116mm underfoot. While my friends are sending out baby announcements and invitations to bridal showers, I’m over here like, “HEY GUYS, CHECK OUT MY COOL NEW SKIS.” In all caps, because I really am that stoked.
I can say with complete honesty that, right now, I wouldn’t want it any other way. Sure, there is a part of me that desires a little stability—like a rocker pow ski that can still blast through crud. I wouldn’t mind having a place to really call home. I move every 6 months from guide housing in Alaska to struggling to find the cheapest rent in Breckenridge, which this winter means living in a small, non-insulated, Lincoln-Log-style house. Still, I’m completely content here for these six months of winter, even if the roof does leak directly onto the WiFi modem sometimes.
For whatever reason, something in me tells me I can’t settle yet. How can you hunker down in one spot when you still have no idea what little nook of this awesome planet you want reside in? I suppose one day one of the bigger decisions I’ll make in life will be establishing what geographic location to call home. I’m torn between the family and home I grew up in of Northern Utah, the mountains of Colorado where all my best friends live and where the owner of my favorite coffee shop knows my name, and those steep peaks in the fjords of Alaska with a tight-knit guiding family that had my heart the minute I drove down that final stretch from Canada. I mean, just look at these places:
My life and moves and travels aren’t defined by where a corporate job might take me or where my kids should go to school (because I have neither of those things). It’s guided by places and people. Wherever I am, I don’t want to be without good mountains and good people (and good coffee and good beer, too).
Right now, it’s as simple as that for me. And in many ways, I hope it always will be. Who knows how long I’ll continue to be a nomad—maybe forever. Maybe one of these days I’ll just realize that this (wherever this may be) must be the place, like the Talking Heads so poignantly expressed. And if I do make that decision, I hope it gives me what I’m looking for in my new skis: enough stability for when things get steep and crusty, but plenty of play to float when the snow and good times dump down from the sky.
So yes, the biggest decision I’ve made in a while is to pull the trigger and buy that perfect pair of all-mountain powder skis. And I don’t think I’m hyperbolizing that too much; that ski will come with me to all the various places I currently call home. They’ll be in the back of my car as I travel to those nooks and crannies that have the good mountains and good people, and will likely still be around in my quiver if I ever pick one to settle in.