During my first winter spent cross-country skiing in Soldotna, I often found myself struggling to glide along the trails at Tsalteshi. I was learning, fumbling along alone, trying to stay balanced while simultaneously gaining speed.
If I came up to a particularly daunting incline, I would buckle down and granny-style my way up, huffing and puffing over the crest of the hill until I finally started gaining speed on the way down.
One dark night, after a late shift at the Clarion offices, I started my trek from Kenai to Sterling and decided to get another round of fumbling through Tsalteshi under my belt. There was a dusting of snow falling onto the Kenai Spur Highway, which I expected would mess with Tsalteshi’s superb grooming, but you’ll never get better if you don’t keep at it, right?
I strapped on my headlamp and skate skied through an inch of fresh snow, a new obstacle in my way that made the solitary slog that much harder.
But, I kept going and eventually found that the low rumbling I heard in the distance wasn’t coming from the highway. It was the groomer, gliding along the paths around me, in front of me, making everything I was trying to do just a little bit easier.
Now, a few years and many more nights of skiing later, I slog less and ski more. I can glide up hills, rarely ducking into the granny style. I’ve had years of advice, wisdom and fabulously groomed trails shape me into the skier I am today and I’m anxiously anticipating the snowy days just around the corner.
Until then, though, I’ve been thinking about the generations of women who have groomed the way for me since adding a new feat to the ranks, Kamala Harris.
While speaking as vice-president elect this past weekend, Harris spoke of her mother’s journey, and the journey of all the women before her, that led to the moment where she became the first woman and person of color to be elected to the office of vice president of the United States.
“… Women who fought and sacrificed so much for equality, liberty and justice for all, including the Black women, who are often, too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy. All the women who worked to secure and protect the right to vote for over a century: 100 years ago with the 19th Amendment, 55 years ago with the Voting Rights Act and now, in 2020, with a new generation of women in our country who cast their ballots and continued the fight for their fundamental right to vote and be heard.”
I may fumble in my life. I may huff and puff through and over an obstacle, but the reason I can breathe easy and enjoy the speed I gain on the other side of a daunting task is because of the women who braved similar scenarios before me.
They were the women who strapped on their gear and went out into the snow to blaze the path, to make sure the future was a bit easier on the rest of us, to give me the opportunity to dream with ambition and lead with conviction.