We lost a friend to the mountains this week. When I say lost, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he’s been there all along. Certainly his spirit and passion has been caught up in ridge-walks and highty elevations for years. Many of us met him on a long trail or on top of a mountain; crossing vast landscape together can bring you to a level of intimacy some will never know outside of their family. But family is what you become after months of sleeping on the dirt, laughing at ridiculous things and marveling that the world can be so beautiful.
Sometimes you never need to actually hike with someone to know you are part of the same family, and know those shared experiences of hiking thousands of miles can almost always bridge the gap.
At the end of the day how can you mourn a life that has been absorbed by the very thing they loved so much? Life is too short. Yes, that is painfully true. And, I have to think that of all the places one could spend their last minutes, the mountain range that frames Central Oregon, the mountain range that is home, is a very fitting place.
I won’t look at the Three Sisters the same anymore. Ben is up there. He is part of that wilderness now. If anything, it makes my connection with the world that much deeper.