Winning essay posted with author's permission. Blame formatting issues on being copy and pasted.
My name is Niles and I am twenty-six years old. I call myself an avid outdoorsman since I love to run, ski, and climb and spend more than twenty hours per week doing it. I currently live in Wenatchee Washington, and get around using my Trek 1.2 road bike. I just returned from skiing in Colorado for the season and moved back home in April to work towards a degree in nursing.
As a nursing student, my daily life is currently filled with learning muscles, tutoring math to pay the bills, and running local trails. I use the weekends as my escape and whether it’s running near Mount Si in North Bend, the Enchantments in Leavenworth, or skiing the Birthday Tour in the North Cascades I find that this is a crucial time to escape the city and switch gears and explore. Mountains, trails, and movement allow me to fuel a passion for competition. I spend summers training for trail marathons and spend every weekend in the mountains. Some of my objectives this year are to compete in eight trail marathons around the Pacific Northwest and Canada, and complete climbing objectives like Bonanza Peak, the Forbidden-Torment Traverse, the Ptarmigan Traverse, and setting a fast time up and down Mount Rainier. During the past two winters I moved to Colorado to learn to ski and compete in ski-mountaineering races such as the Grand Traverse. This fuel for competition serves as a healthy outlet for exploration and helps me set goals and stay fit.
After spending the past two years in Colorado I decided to move back to my roots in Washington. Although I have degrees in science from Gonzaga, my Dad the nurse always encouraged me to go into nursing.
“Nursing is flexible” he would say, or “I’ve never had trouble finding a job.”
Well, I finally listened. Nursing would allow me the flexibility to work three to four days a week and spend time fueling my passions outdoors. At Wenatchee Valley College, I’m looking at finishing in two years and starting a career that will provide financial stability and opportunity.
This brings me to my final point. I sold my car before leaving Colorado to pursue a career in nursing, and as a result, I don’t have the same opportunities I had before to visit the mountains. There are many benefits to getting around on a bicycle. You get some well-needed exercise. You get to look sharp wheeling around in white scrubs. You reduce your carbon footprint and overall impact on the roads. However, there are also cons. Skiing becomes easier when you don’t have to strap them on your bike and ride up the mountain, and riding takes more time and hence can be inefficient if your objective lies miles away. With a car, I would use it as a medium for exploration on the weekends. With a car I could drive down to Adams to ski on a Saturday, and drive up to Whistler this September to run a thirty-five mile trail race.