June 14 Update

The weather was gorgeous, setting the stage for a perfect day for family and close friends to celebrate Steve’s life. The June 4th celebration took place on top of Mt. Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts and a convenient place for everyone to be on the AT, as there is an auto road that goes to the top of the mountain.

About 40 people met at the top, many of whom had hiked the beautiful Jones Nose or Overlook Trails, which meet the AT on the ridge.

We were all honored that friends from as far away as California flew in to join us.

Steve had stipulated that he wanted a party, not a funeral, but we couldn’t help having a small ceremony on the top, where people got to share Steve, Beebers, and Otter stories—and there were plenty. After a couple of hours on the mountain, we all drove down to a nearby friend’s for a great dinner (including Italian food with tomato sauce, one of Steve’s culinary specialties).

There was also an event in Chama over Memorial Day Weekend, and Teresa Martinez, Director of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) Coalition, reports:

“Overall, it was a nice gathering.  People on the Trail this year who have walked by Lagunitas have felt his spirit there, and in some way I think it’s beautiful that he will forever be along the CDT in New Mexico.  The people who did share their feelings all remarked that they felt him in a peaceful way and knew/know they have someone keeping an eye out for them now.  I think Steve would like that.”

The ceremony on Greylock ended with this story from Steve’s blog:

The Very Little Lady… who wasn’t so little.

Not afraid of dying(well maybe just a little)
More afraid of not livin………

Excerpt from a Golf book I have been working on. wrote this today.

Big Spirit.

CDT PRE HIKE 2014 meditation continued…

We are here for a short time, and the older ya get, the more ya(I) realize this. There is no turning back. It is a Journey, this one life we are given.  A one way ticket, to the end. This is what I mean, when I sign off, “Life is a Hike”.

 I had been very busy in the old days; when I was busy teaching golf in a past life. It was possible that I could put my hands on a hundred different people in the same day, that’s a lot. Group of fifty kids, then couple of clinics of ten, couple of schools, mix in a few privates, and it makes for a very long day… seeing every kind of human being imaginable. Toddler to Great Grandad, obese to anorexic and every race and nationality. Pauper to preposterously rich. Fit or unfit, physically and or mentally (psychologically)….a lot of sick and ill people. everybody. I turned no one away, unlike some other golf pros.

I saw a name on my schedule I didn’t recognize for my next lesson one day. She came over and introduced herself. Sticking out her little bony arthritic hand to shake hands. She was one of the smallest ladies I had ever seen as her driver was about as tall as she was. Maybe 4’4”. She had on her little yellow golf sweater and skirt, with little golfers all over it, and her matching visor and shoes. “Bess”, her red gray hair thinning out so you could see her scalp.
I interview all people in depth to gather information that might enable me to help them…
after our intros….
I put her on about 82years old. I’m usually pretty close……
Me, “how may I help you today?” curious as to what someone like this wanted to work on.

Her enthusiastically, “I want more DISTANCE! I  Need distance… these other ladies I play with hit so much further then I do! Help me”
Me, “ok, as always, I will do my best. Let me see you hit some balls, see what ya got.”
She teed one up, crushed it!, but, it only went 75feet…with roll:-)
She teed up another….Flushed it(perfect) went 76feet.
That won’t even make it across a tennis court. A golf course is MILES long.
Her old bony arthritic hands could hardly hold the club anymore, her wrists couldn’t bend anymore…
Her SPIRIT though, it was gargantuan, and overpoweringly visible, dwarfing her physical presence. Her spirit would not give in to age.
I cried behind my sunglasses, humbled by this incredible being.
Me gathering myself, trying to perform a miracle and do my job, “ I’m going to adjust your grip a little, if possible, to enable your wrists to hinge a little more. This in turn- might give ya a little more.”
Her, “Let’s go!”
I made the adjustment, which isn’t easy for a golfer of well over fifty years, and don’t ya know it, she cocked her wrists more.   The ball Went 82feet! You could pee farther than that down wind, but we were ecstatic. She did it over and over….
Towards the end…..me, curious, “Bess, How old are you?”
“95” as she smiled a beautiful smile.
My honesty gets me in trouble some times, but I asked anyway, “Why did you take this lesson today”?
She looked me right in the eye and held up her little bony old arthritic index finger towards the sky, “Because, I’M going to Live! Until I die….” she proclaimed with such passion I’ll never forget it.
As the power of that statement floored me.
Then her sleeve, slipped down her old wrinkled skin arm, as her finger was up in the air….and I saw the number….the Holocaust number….she lived. Tears…
I escorted her to her car, me, in tears, knowing; I prolly would not ever see her again.
She said goodbye, and, “Thank you for the lesson! I’m so excited!” And she drove off. That’s right, drove.
Me to myself….. No Bess, thank you for the lesson.
Life is a Hike.

The photo is a still made from video footage he took on the PCT in 2006.

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4 thoughts on “June 14 Update

  1. I met Otter on the CDT in July of 2012, in CO on Marshall Pass. As I recall he arrived at the small cabin up there while we were having breakfast (he was wise and hiked early). Northbound, we leap-frogged one another until Kokomo Pass. Otter was ahead of us going up the pass. An afternoon storm came in; he set up his tent trailside to wait it out. My friend and I hiked in the cold rain until reaching Otter’s location. He brewed us coffee to warm us up and we talked a while, making light of the conditions. It sounds like nothing off the trail but it was a really nice thing to do and I’ll never forget it. The three of us camped near a creek that night. He began hiking early the next morning, and I didn’t see him again. My friend and I were just talking last night, and this memory came up. I knew Otter had a blog, so I thought I’d look him up again and just learned of his passing. I’m heartbroken and I am so sorry for your loss. I think many many people likely have stories about him, such as mine, where his experience and kindness really helped people out. He was so genuine and for me, inspiring, and I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have met such a person. May he rest in peace.

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