Thursday, May 07, 2009

Lost Friends

I had expected to begin writing, and blogging, extensively starting mid-March, but a few unpleasant unforeseen contingencies have derailed me for a few months. I’ve unexpectedly lost two friends.

Hans Roing, brother to my climbing partner Mats, died very suddenly. He was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and passed away shortly thereafter. I climbed less with Hans than with Mats, but greatly enjoyed the time I spent with him.

A few memories: When Mats, Katya, and I climbed Grand Teton, he was attending a meeting in the Jackson area. Just for fun and camaraderie, he accompanied us up to base camp, quite a climb itself, and then scrambled back down to get back to his conference. A year later, after Mats and I had successfully summitted Gannett Peak, Mats decided to run the Devil’s Backbone 50 Miler south of Bozeman MT. I was too pooped to run, so I helped pack supplies to the 25 mile aid station at Windy Pass and spent the day there. At some point, Hans and a friend showed up - they had bushwhacked from the Yellowstone side of the Gallatin Divide, over notional trails through grizzly country, just to cheer Mats on. Mats was outperforming his wildest expectations, and had already been and gone. I had a great time talking with Hans anyway, and he enjoyed the day. Somewhere I have a photo I took of him, and will post it when I find it. Hans - sorely missed. But I think they are happy to have him in Valhalla.

Second loss: during a mundane trail run, my longtime companion and running partner Dushka vanished without a trace. She was only a few yards ahead of me, running with another canine friend, Chaos. They suddenly veered off the trail after a little animal, and by the time I got there - a matter of seconds - Dushka was gone. This is quite unlike her; she doesn’t stray far from me, and I have called her off everything from bears to rabbits. I’ve searched as hard as I can for her, and still am doing so. I’ve feared she was somehow sucked into a nearby underwater drain and drowned, but with the help of a friend have dredged it with no results.

In my search, I’ve encountered the kindness of many strangers. I put out numerous flyers, and have subsequently bumped into people who are looking for her. I’ve also had calls from strangers asking how the search goes, and telling me they are keeping an eye out. Many of my students have been helping as well. I’m grateful.

There aren’t many beings as loving, thoughtful, kind, and full of life as Dushka. Here’s hoping that when friends are lost, it’s not forever.

I shocked and saddened. While Hans is gone perhaps D is not.

Here's hoping for her safe return.

I am so sorry to hear about your losses. We have three (dogs, not climbing friends, obviously), one large, one medium and one tiny, and the two bigger ones regularly run off after real or imaginary prey. There are so many things that could harm them, and they've got absolutely no awareness of the world around them when they are focused on the chase. Sometimes they take a while to come back, and the fear grows gradually in the pit of your stomach. I can't imagine what it must be like, waiting and hoping. They give so much pleasure and love, it is a real bereavement to lose one.

Occasionally, the improbable does happen and an animal turns up months later, like this. I don't pray, but my best wishes are with you for this sort of ending.
Thanks Jeff. Thanks Bruno. I do appreciate your support.

Still no sign. Today I managed to check the culvert completely (required some swimming). I cleared an obstruction or two, but obviously it gets periodically jammed and then flushed. I also went downstream looking for a body; nothing.

I find it very sad and disheartening.
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