|Dad hiking Ptarmigan Ridge in the North Cascades.|
Dad set out to hike the Harry's Ridge trail at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. He picked this hike out long ago, and was excited to visit the area.
I immediately thought of the exposed section of trail where it skirts an outcrop, and wondered if he suffered a slip. I phoned the Skamania County Sheriff's office to report him missing. They confirmed his car was still in the parking lot, and began to mobilize their resources.
I threw most of my climbing gear into the back of my truck and, together with my brother, drove down to the Johnston Ridge Observatory. Having had Mountaineering Oriented First Aid (MOFA) training, I was prepared to help out with the search and rescue any way I could.
|Dad and I at camp on Ptarmigan Ridge in the North Cascades.|
We spent most of the day with the sheriff out in the wind and rain, answering questions, digesting information gathered at the scene, and trying to make sense of it all. I couldn't get my mind off my mom, and how we were going to break the news to her. She would be devastated.
|Dad with his brother Arlie and me on Burroughs Mountain,|
Mount Rainier National Park.
When details of the autopsy were learned, it became clear that my dad's accident had nothing to do with lack of preparedness, but rather a decision he made while enjoying the moment. He was looking for an even better view. Bless him.
|Dad and I at Death Valley National Park.|
My dad and I enjoyed many hikes together throughout the state. Burroughs Mountain at Mount Rainier National Park was probably his favorite, though Glacier View in the Glacier View Wilderness was a close second. Other memorable hikes include Tolmie Peak in Mount Rainier National Park, the Elwha and Grand Valley in Olympic National Park, Park Butte, Ptarmigan Ridge and Cutthroat Pass in the North Cascades, High Rock in the South Cascades, and Norway Pass/Mount Margarett in Mount St. Helens National Monument. I'm sure I am forgetting several more.
|Dad hiking Fall Canyon in Death Valley|
My dad experienced a rejuvenation in life after he started hiking with me. He stopped smoking, started eating better, and began excersizing regularly. I never thought about this. It had to be pointed out to me by family.
I'm proud to have introduced my dad to hiking and backpacking. Dad was truly a different person on the trail, and you could see how much he enjoyed it. Being able to watch the sun rise and set from our tent in the backcountry was an entirely new experience for him. He loved it.
Dad enjoyed the forest as much as the mountain tops. His slow pace on the trail would sometimes frustrate me, and I would encourage him to pick it up. He never understood my hurry, and wondered why I didn't slow down and smell the flowers more. I would try to convince him that the higher views ahead were worth hurrying for. I never won this argument.
Dad's tragic fall took place at a location where I have photographed from many times. These images will always have special meaning to me now. They are of his last view.
I am equally proud to know that some of my most popular images to get published have been from trips I did with my dad. He was always tickled to learn of a new image use agreement, and we would relive the memory of that trip.
|Dad on Lillian Ridge, Olympic National Park.|
I would also like to thank Skamania County Sheriff Deputy George Barker for his kindness and thoughtfulness. He was more than an officer on this day. He was an understanding friend.
Rest in peace, dad. You are missed and loved by many. Especially me. I love you.