Even though I look at this mountain every day, Chief Joseph Mountain still takes my breath away. This peak dominates the skyline. It is our weather forecaster: if there's a plume of snow pulled off the peak like a scarf, if clouds shroud its summit, we know we are in for it. A couple of years ago a fire rolled up its back. In fall, the larches turn golden on its flanks. And we measure the snowline by how far it advances down the slope.
I didn't know as I walked in the peaceful sunshine, what was unfolding on the mountain. You can read about it here. I didn't know until the next day, when it was too late.
The town is reeling, even those people, like myself, who had only met him a couple of times. This mountain is like the ocean was in the last place I lived. It was our touchstone, our constant. And still, every year, people were lost to the ocean. It's easy to think of it as a betrayal.
Keep skiing the peaks, friends. Keep climbing the mountains and running the rivers. If some of us are fortunate and we survive all that, we can look back and think of all the times we shouldn't have, the times when we were safe because the stars aligned, some freak combination of mountain and snow holding true for us, even when it didn't for others. Our tears are the rain, our memories the rainbow after.
See you out there.