Friday, December 22, 2006

Kelly James, Mountain Climber

As with most of America, I have been watching the national news channels to keep up with what was going on with the three lost climbers on Mt. Hood in Oregon. The results are rairly good in cases like this especially during the winter months and this time is no exception. The body of Kelly James was found in a snow cave this past weekend on the mountain after a week of being missing. I really don't try to second guess why people do such things as climbing in extreme conditions at extreme altitudes. I'm the type of person that would do the exact same thing, but with a little more preperation I would hope. Death will overtake us all at some point. That is an unavoidable reality. What we do to some extent defines who we are and for extreme adventurers like Kelly James that was made very evident on the national news last night in an interview with his wife.

She painted this amazing picture of the type of person that Kelly was to his friends and family and especially to her. If I may quote her, she said with tears in her eyes...."He taught me how to live". That my friends is what life is all about. Giving to others the things that they never had and for Kelly's wife it was giving her "Life". What that means to her we may never know. It surely means different things to each of us. She expressed her faith in God on national tv at a time when God is being pushed out of our country and it isn't cool to say things like that. She never expressed anger at God or Kelly for what happened. She could only smile and cry at the same time. I think that is the best compliment that she could ever pay to God, Kelly and to the rest of us who seek the highest peaks in life. I am inspired by Kelly to be a better person and by his wife to be a better example of what life means to me. I have always wanted to be somebodyelse and never be who I really am. These people are perfect examples for us all to be who we are and not to be who someone else is. She stated that while physically Kelly was in that snow cave alone, he never died alone. She said that God was right there with Kelly. I truly believe that also. Kelly was lost for a week, seperated from his family but not seperated from God.

The other two climbers are still missing and officials say that they now consider this to be a body recovery effort and not a search and rescue effort. It appears that all hope is lost at this point. It appears that three friends spent there last days together in a life and death struggle on a snow covered, wind swept mountain top.

I never knew any of these guys but there is no doubt in my mind we share a connection or else I wouldn't be writing this little story in my blog.

There is a sadness in me that comes from knowing that thre is a generation growing up now that views adventure as a family reunion weekend in a campground. thats as close as they will ever get to nature. In the days of my youth I spent countless hours and days alone on mountain tops looking down at what came to be known as the rat race. I huntd large game and small game animals for food and sport (I don't do that any more) and trapped fur bearing creatures for profit. None of this sounds very appealing I know, but what I am saying here is that I have a knowledge of the natural world around me than more than 99% of the entire world will never have and it comes from being connected to the ground on which we trod. I have stood twenty feet from a 400 pound bear in the woods, alone, and never flinch. What happened you ask? Nothing.....simply put, the bear looked me over and moved on. Life is to be lived, not avoided. I didn't want to be bear food that day, but I also didn't want to sit at home and watch bears on tv, in a cage begging for food or being hunted on these so called game preserves out west which is nothing more than a 3,000 acre cage with a fancy sounding yuppie name.

We all have cages to break out of. For me sitting idle in a chair is my cage. It drives me nuts. All I do is think about all the things I would be doing if I were in the mountains. For others it could be hiking to far of the well worn trail or even a total fear of being in an unfamiliar place. Friends......don't let life be your cage. Let it be your adventure like Kelly did, and it doing so passed it alng to someone else like Kelly did to his wife Karen.
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