By Mandi Donohue

Last Friday marked the one-year anniversary of our fallen firefighters.  While so much of me wanted and intended to, I didn’t make it down valley to the remembrance. Lliam and I have been passing ships in the night. With his late night tows and my early morning hours, I felt like I hadn’t seen him in days. We did entirely boring things. We cleaned the house. We watered the garden. It was so nice to actually spend time together. Having been in a bit of a funk, I actually found a few good belly laughs while taking photos of our kitties in all their spastic, wackadoodle glory. As the day progressed, I couldn’t help but feel entirely at peace, dumbfoundedly so. I just stopped and let it resonate. The moment meant more to me than I can express here, but I thought that this was exactly how I honor these men: to live. These simple moments are everything, everything, everything. How could I have taken them for granted? So to our angels, Andrew, Rick and Tom, I bow and say thank you. I remember.  

It is in this same spirit of life, that I would love to celebrate two incredible people, Midge Cross and Chris Ballard. On Wednesday (Aug. 17), they completed a 37-mile hike connecting Harts Pass to the Canadian border. Midge (72) and Chris (63) averaged 3 miles an hour and at the end of their 13-hour day, Karan Godman and Jane Bair spotted the duo as they “chattered their way to the end as though they were out for a cheery morning jog.” Afterwards, all four ladies had a scrumptious meal at the park lodge where they stayed and headed back home the next day.  

Photos courtesy of Chris Ballard Chris Ballard at the U.S.-Canada border: a noteworthy one-day hike.

Photos courtesy of Chris Ballard
Chris Ballard at the U.S.-Canada border: a noteworthy one-day hike.

Voracious to know what is in their morning cereal, I asked Midge and Chris why they do what they do. Midge said, “I do what I do because I love being out, feeling strong, smelling the woods. I believe in carpe diem — don’t stop, because it’s hard to get going again.” Midge is currently celebrating her great feat by running with her daughter in Colorado. Chris responded, “Wild places and open spaces — love these and the wonderful Methow Valley as my base camp!” And to quote Frost, she has “miles to go before I sleep!”  

You two ladies are a real treat, let me tell you. Everyone has mentioned this story as being “totally newsworthy,” which speaks volumes about the respect this community has for you, the grandiosity of what you accomplished and your lust for life that is an inspiration to us all.

There’s a lot to think about this week, folks. Here’s to remembering for more than a moment.

PREVIOUSLY, IN MAZAMA