Living Small..Gaining Larger, May 1 2016 - Mark Rafferty
The Tipi in All its Glory

Traveling and experiencing new things, more often times than not, will put the most amazing people in your life. Usually these people are people you will stay in touch for years to come. Meeting new people is almost never a bad thing. Putting yourself out there can open up a whole new world of possibilities and can change your life in a positive way.

A few years back I was fortunate enough to be apart of an Avalanche course in the Beartooth Mountain Range of Montana. Driving thru the night after my final class that day I arrived in a small town of 140 people called Cooke City. Myself and many other students met up at the town center to set off into the mountains for the next 3 days. The place we stayed at was a small cabin that our guide built from the surrounding trees of the forest. If you have the opportunity to take a course or backcountry ski with friends I highly recommend checking this cabin and area out.

During those few days in the backcountry I met several people from all over the United States, with myself being the youngest (as usual). One of the couples I met were Mike and Ally. Two college students from Bozeman, Montana. We hit it off pretty well on that trip mainly due to the fact that Mike was a photographer as well. Since I wanted to pack light I left my camera behind, so I was very excited to see Mike with a camera. After the class Mike and I stayed in touch now and then trying to find a time to take what we’ve learned into the backcountry. Sadly something always come up with either him or I to be unable to make the time.

Once I moved to Bozeman I was pumped to learn that Mike and Ally were still living in the area and still wanted to get out and ski. Sadly since I was living out of my van and had no money I had absolutely no time to get out there. Time passed and I’m now being able to get out more now that I have some money to play around with. Once I got in contact with Mike he told me that he has just recently moved out of an apartment and onto some land outside of Bozeman. Thanks to cell phones and snapchat I was lucky enough to see the new place he called home. I immediately wanted to come up and see this set up of his and catch up.

Their place sits on, I believe, 17 acres of land they purchased just outside of Bozeman towards Livingston. Once they purchased the land they had a big debate on what they should put up and live in, the ultimate goal eventually is to build their own home and move into it when able. Supposedly there was a debate between either living temporarily out of  a yurt, camper, or a tipi. Their argument against the camper was that most of the people they know, who are going through the same steps, take the camper route. Comparing the tipi against the yurt, the cheaper and “cooler” option was of course the tipi.

We live in a new generation where the idea of “tiny” living has becoming a huge fad. However, as I stated in my previous blog, it has many advantages. After Mike gave me the grand tour of his property and tipi we burnt scraps in a bonfire and bullshitted for a few hours. Right now in my life I’m in this huge conflict in either going to college and gain some "backup degree" or to head out, follow my passions, and try to make it as a professional athlete/photographer. The reason why I find following my passions as soon as possible so intriguing was hearing about how many other athletes/photographers got their start.

Almost all the athletes and photographers in the climbing community went to college before they knew they truly loved the sport of climbing. After they got their degrees they moved into their cars and became a full on dirtbag.They were quickly living and climbing with some of the best athletes around and become great athletes of their own. With their creativity and outreaching personalities companies started to see what they were doing and hired them as either an athlete, writer, photographer, or filmmaker. Reason being because climbing was their life and nothing else seemed to matter.

These iconic figures made this happen around their mid 20s early 30s. I’m sure if you asked any of these athletes or artists if they wished they had done this earlier in life, they would all say absolutely. Many successful people say that success doesn’t happen overnight. It happens to be this rollercoaster of failing and succeeded until your goal is reached. Yes, not going to school right away may be scary. But carrying out my dreams and passions will pay off in the long run.

I still have many months ahead of me before I make this decision, but as Mike and I sat around that bon fire just outside his tipi, his advice to me was to take the chance those guys didn’t. "School will always be there but opportunities open and close very quickly. So try it, and see if you can make it work and if not take some courses and get a degree." Thank you Mike for your insight and encouragement in this upcoming chapter in my life. Everyone you meet does serve a purpose in your life. Traveling to Cooke City, Montana to be part of a avalanche training course in the heart of the Beartooth Mountain Range lead me to meeting Mike and Ally. Now here we were sitting by a fire in the mountains of Montana talking about our experiences with one another. 

Being that I have a couple months ahead of me before I have to make this decision, I would really like to know your opinion on the matter. Also please let me know if any of you have  questions or even want to share a little about your journey. I love hearing from different people because each person’s story I hear I learn something new. So yea, get in touch with me! Living in a van does create lots of free-time.