Mountain Dweller


Here to bring light to the issues that people sweep under rugs to bring healing to those who can't find their own words for their experiences and to promote change through individuality. 

The First Month

The deception of time comes by way of measurement in chaos: the more on the platter, the less free space to organize. I laugh with both embarrassment and shame at my one month in Wyoming versus my first month in Montana. There has not been one day of tear-drop driving since moving to Montana.....

I get a wide range of questions once folks are finally able to pinpoint where I currently am, mostly pertaining to why I left Utah and if I am happy with my decision(s). So let's chat about 'em: 

"Why did you leave the first time?" 

- The first time I left Utah was in 2016 and it was for an internship in Washington State that I was using to both a) separate from my ex and b) find a new mountain biking home. Bellingham was home for 3 months but I returned to Utah in April 2017. I left again in 2018 because of the Vail Resorts buy-out in Park City that has ruined the town and morphed it into "Outside Magazine's Top Ten Best Summer Spots". 

"Why Wyoming?" 

- I chose Jackson Hole as my next best option for a few simple reasons that were focused around being close enough to Utah still while trying to break free from my attachment to the state. The drive back and forth proved to be effortless and it allowed me to keep one foot in familiar territory while trying to boldly try something new. I also took the first job that I could, as I was eager to move on from Park City. 

"How did Montana come into play then?"

- While applying to job after job for Colorado, on a whim I found an HR position opening with Big Sky Resort and decided to just go for it. The rest is fate or good timing, whatever you believe in. I had not yet stepped foot in the state of Montana and until two weeks ago, I had not been further than Big Sky. 

"What do you like more, Utah or Montana?" 

- No Wyoming?! JK, Wyoming almost can't count. After a going on a couple of hikes around town, I realized that Montana is literally this weirdly perfect mix of Utah and Washington. Not too dry, not too wet, there's water constantly running through the land but you aren't getting a sweaty hug from nature. Montana has me on edge far more than Utah did when it comes to the outdoors, where in Utah I found great ease in venturing out alone however in Montana, I have a lot of reluctance to be solo. I carry bear spray on a consistent basis here, all of your crumbs need to be picked up no matter what, all of the beer here is real, and dogs can be off leash if they're voice command trained. Big Sky actually has an off-season still whereas Park City has lost theirs but with the resort being separate from the town of Big Sky, it is lacking a historic main street venue (and a Walmart, thank god). Overall, there are just less people out here, and that is what makes it so appealing. I don't think that I have been in Montana long enough to fairly judge if I enjoy one more than the other....because Utah will win in the name of "that's home". To add to that question though, my favorite things about Montana so far include its simplistic nature of the land and the people, a decrease in traffic, little to no alcohol laws, medical marijuana, and the fact that it's called "mantana", or "maltana" for the men. 

"Do you miss Utah?" 

- Oh for sure I do. I miss the entire state despite the small parts of the things that I don't miss. I miss the desert the most though and sometimes it feels too far out of reach. I miss the 24 hour quick sends to Southern Utah and scouring the map for the road I hadn't driven yet. I miss watching the sun bleed over the Great Salt Lake for it's summer sunsets and hiking The Cottonwoods for some of the best day-hang locations. All of the things that I miss about Utah will find their roots in Montana, in due time; it's easy to miss familiarity and comfort.

"Do you have any regrets about the last few months?"

- I do in the sense that I wish that I would have said more goodbyes to people, that I would have spent some of my time in Utah differently especially towards the end. But overall, I can't say that I honestly regret any of it; Wyoming taught me a whole chapter on myself that ultimately led me to Montana, even with all the crying that occurred. Wyoming showed me that I was not meant to be in Wyoming and that I needed to find a state that actually made sense to me, not because I wanted out of a different one so badly. 

"Biggest challenge you faced?" 

It was trying to do all of this with an injured dog. Having a dog alone is hard enough and housing can be the biggest frustration to accompany that. Having a dog that was also under 1 year old and definitely not okay with being locked in a crate for any period of time, made the stress heighten even more. I had a learning curve of letting Zuke stay home, unsupervised; grocery shopping an hour from my front door; driving an hour to and from work; and learning how to truly drive in the snow. Wyoming forced me to grow up and face things that I otherwise would normally pick up and run from. 

* * * 

To me, it hasn't been that hard to keep up with storm I inflicted, however I have come to realize that while I had a loose grip on life, a lot of folks did not yet even know that I had left Utah. On May 7th, Zuke and I completed our first month in our new home state. There's no more hoping that a place will work out or hoping that it won't become a sour taste in three years because now there's a focus on actually making this work for us. It's the byproduct of being tired of starting over. It's the byproduct of understanding that at some point, I need to stop running. 

McKenzie RoersComment