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Thoughts Of An Airstream-Dwelling Tele Skier

Kaden McFarland taking a break in the backcountry. Andrew Hamilton photo. 

Upon graduating high-school in the spring of 2014, Kaden McFarland decided to put further education on hold and pursue the vagabond life. Kaden is a passionate and ripping skier, and he's a dirty knee-dropper to boot. He spent his post-graduation summer working for the forest service in Idaho, saving money for winter. Moving to Glacier, Washington in the late fall, he waited around for the snow to fall at Mt. Baker. When it didn't come, he set out across the country in search of his vice. While taking a break from fighting a fire in northeast Washington, Kaden was kind enough to share some thoughts about living a mobile lifestyle.

You started the winter out renting an Airstream in Glacier, WA, what made you do that?          

My choice to move into an Airstream was mostly based on skiing. I wanted to live in a way that allowed me to ski the most, and cater to my budget. It's easy to go skiing when you don't have to think about money all the time.

McFarland pays $200/month to live out of an Airstream in Glacier, Washington, on the edge of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Kaden McFarland photo. 

You ended up heading out on the road for a good chunk of the winter, can you talk a little bit about your travels and your living situation along the way?      

I was living in Glacier until around January. Then my buddy Andrew and I took off to chase snow. We didn't really have a plan, just to find pow. Ended up spending about a month in the Tetons living out of my truck, and bumming couch space from the many generous souls inhabiting the Teton Valley. At the Grand Targhee Tele Comp I ran into a couple friends charging down to catch a storm at Alta. There, I had an unreal day, which turned into an unreal 3 month ski daze after I scored a job working at Alf’s Restaurant.

McFarland doesn't only live out of an Airstream, when he's on the road he calls his pickup home. Kaden McFarland photo. 

Now you are back in Glacier living in the Airstream, what brought you back?

I knew I wanted to spend the summer here. The biking is sick, the views are sick, and I'm surrounded by mountains. I'm just glad I was able to find a job fighting wildfire here, too.

What amenities does the Airstream have? How much is your rent?

I have everything I need. Oven, stove, fridge, sink, and storage. Plus a shower and bathroom in a separate unit. Telemarkers don't need showers, though.

McFarland's setup doesn't make the trailer life look too shabby, he scored with the hardwood floors and 70's color scheme. Kaden McFarland photo. 

What do you like about living out of a trailer? What's hard about it? 

My favorite part about living in the Airstream is the simplicity. It's crazy stepping into a "normal" home and realizing how much space and material is wasted. Everything I need to live my life is contained in a tiny trailer. I think it really set me up to live a simpler and more sustainable lifestyle. It also sparked my interest in living in a way that is low impact, cheap, and easy. The greatest thing about it is also its biggest downfall. There's not a lot of space, you have to keep it clean and organized. I also can't figure out if the ladies dig it or not.

My favorite part about living in the Airstream is the simplicity. It's crazy stepping into a "normal" home and realizing how much space and material is wasted.

Has your diet changed much since moving out of your parent’s house? 

My diet has definitely changed. I'm way into getting the most bang for my buck when it comes to food. That means lots of veggies, beans, and rice.

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A cozy nook at the front of the trailer contains McFarland's bed, making for a nice sleeping space. Kaden McFarland photo. 

Is this a lifestyle you want to keep up? What are your plans for next winter and the future? 

I love this lifestyle. When all your belongings fit in your truck you're able to take your life wherever you want. Next winter I plan on going where the snow is. I'm hoping that it falls in the wonderful North Cascades, but I like leaving things open ended and adaptable. In the distant future I plan on trying to live a life that allows me to be as free as I want to be. I'd really like to continue building upon the idea of sustainability and bringing it to my skiing and everyday living. Being able to access the mountains in a way that is good for the environment is huge, as well as providing myself the necessities to live through sources that don't put the environment at risk.

I love this lifestyle. When all your belongings fit in your truck you're able to take your life wherever you want. Next winter I plan on going where the snow is. I'm hoping that it falls in the wonderful North Cascades, but I like leaving things open ended and adaptable.

What are your thoughts on tele skiing? 

Don't even get me started on tele skiing. It fits into my life with no friction at all. I'm constantly amazed by this sport and all the places it's brought me. To me, it's the most efficient and dynamic way of traveling in the mountains. I can get myself to the top of any line, and ski it exactly how I envision it. Tele skiing has a flow and feeling that I can't put into words. You'll just have to go try it.

Kaden McFarland dropping knee as he descends Mt. Adams, Oregon. Carl Heath photo.

From The Column: Base Camp

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