Two Year Goals
I’m pretty quickly approaching the two-year anniversary of my initial move to Bozeman. I arrived here in February 2016 on something of an impulse, not entirely sure if I was on a slightly longer than average vacation or making an actual move. I had graduated from college less than a year before, and since then embarked on a series of positive and negative adventures before landing back at my parents’ house, an early-twenties cliché that I’d been determined to avoid. So, at the urging of a friend who promised cheap rent, easy to obtain service jobs, and significantly better skiing than we’d enjoyed for the past four years at our upstate New York university, I packed up my ’95 Buick and headed to Montana. Within a week, I had my own air mattress in the corner of my friend’s apartment, a job at a burrito joint, and experienced my first ever Montana powder day.
A few weeks after my arrival, my friend Sam suggested that we try our hands at a little backcountry skiing. Neither of us really knew what we were doing, but the forecast looked good, and we’d chosen an area known for being good for beginners. We probably looked a little ridiculous, if anyone had been around to see us as we headed up the History Rock trailhead in Hyalite Canyon: her with too-long skins duct taped to the back of her skis and me on snowshoes with ten-year-old demo skis A-framed on my pack and an equally old avalanche beacon of my dad’s strapped clumsily around my chest.
For us, the hike proved to be freakin hard. We struggled uphill for what seemed like hours before finally reaching the bottom of the meadows where we were supposed to be skiing. About halfway up the first meadow, I was winded and covered in sweat, and Sam and I decided that we were done with uphill for the day, which, looking back, I think was probably also the safest decision for a couple of newbs like us.
The descent wasn’t easy for me either. As an intermediate skier who’d rarely ventured off of groomers and learned to ski mostly on New York ice, the March corn seemed heavy and unmanageable, and the tight turns coming down through the trees were incredibly scary. But something about that trip, arduous and unrewarding as it initially seemed, made me determined to push myself further, and that night, as I excitedly recounted the day’s adventure to a friend back east over the phone, I made a goal. In two years, I told her, I would be good at skiing. I would also own a dog. She laughed at me, asking when I’d become such a planner, but I opened up my journal and wrote these goals down. I was going to do it.
A couple of days ago, I was back on the history rock trail. I was skinning this time, and my dog ran along the track behind me, occasionally venturing out into the trees to bounce around in a few inches of fresh snow. The trail seemed to melt away before me, and I was at the bottom of the first meadow – which had seemed like such an achievement on my first trip here – in what felt like no time at all. As I started zigzagging up the side of the meadow, I thought about how much can change in just two years.
Sam, the friend who had initially lured me to Bozeman, has moved away, but I’ve found a community of awesome people who are up for all kinds of adventures. I got involved with Bridger Babes, working to make it easier for other women to find this kind of community. I got the dog, a commitment that two years ago I couldn’t have made. The old Buick has been replaced with something with four-wheel drive, the old gear with more effective versions. As for the skiing, two years of getting after it has convinced me that I’ll always have a long way to go, but I think that the version of Kaycee who made that goal would be pretty damn proud of me.