Two afternoons ago, April 1st, I decided to take a walk up the Kendall Clearcut (a Snoqualmie Pass classic, and one of our passage ways into the epic playground that lies North of I90). Two of my best friends, Dale Boehm and Robert Bolton, and our 3 kick ass ski dogs (Boots, Hobart and Trooper) have spent many days rolling in this area (more than most, I’m sure, Robert having had a cabin right at base of the old growth, up Yellowstone Rd.). Something we all learned during our many tours up the Kendall Clearcut besides how precious life and loved ones are to all of us, it was also fact that the Kendall Clearcut is great place to hone your guiding skills through the lower old growth/steep frozen pitches to the young growth that seemed to get worse every year, making it more like a massive maze with dead ends everywhere (meaning – a big ass tree well, or something that takes you away from the middle riser “lazy man shuffle”, as Dale would call a perfect pitch/pace).
As I began walking by the first group of cabins this past April Fools day, heading into the old growth, I realized this was the first time alone in this area… Wait, this was the first time I had ever toured in the “true” backcountry totally alone (at the very least my boy Trooper was always with me). I soon became somewhat depressed, having lost my Trooper dog on Feb 19th, Dale loosing his boy Boots early this season, and the thoughts that were making my walk even more intense, were the words Dale spoke to me on this past Saturday morning. Dale had given me a call, to tell me some bad news, but before the news came out, he mentioned something along the lines that he knew I’m (TNT) still hurting for our boy Trooper dog, and he hated to tell me why he had called. Dale, who has since moved back to his homeland of BC, Canada, was planning to take the sleds out with a bro (powder sled neckin’… very, very hard to turn down), but told him, he felt the need to hang with Hobart (the last of the 3 bad ass ski dogs) taking him on a nice walk etc… As retired bad ass ski dogs and their best buddies do. Anyway, as they were on a beautiful standard walk, Hobbie (as we loved to call him too) had a stroke. Dale had his wife (Hobart’s mom) call for their local vet, but it was Hobart’s time and our beautiful leader of the pups, took one more breath and passed in Dale’s arms. It actually is hurting me to type this post right now (tears streaming down the face), but I feel so blessed having spent a million feet of up and down beautiful mountains with all three of our pups, Dale and Robert… SO Blessed!
Hobart and his skier (Dale) living large!
Soon, after the cycle of heavy duty thoughts flowed through my head, similar to the story I just mentioned, I had realize taking a slightly different course through the old growth, making it the most fluid trip I have ever lead up the mountain (or was I indeed the one leading this group of nobodies?). I soon realized I wasn’t alone (even though I was “in person” alone) as I popped out of the old growth and flowed through the young growth perfectly. Wow, quite trippy to me, almost like the pups finally could lead the way through those spots that always tripped us up slightly (but I never would listen to their lead when it was “in person” or should I say “in pup”, saying something like, “hey dogs get back over here and TRAIL)? All of the sudden I had a strong feeling of “NOT ALONE”, and the feeling remained the entire day (and continues today). It was also kind of fun when Sting showed up on the pass, gave a cell call just in time to catch me ski from the “Summit” down through “Bolton Alley” as she sat at Red Mountain Coffee. The last thing that blew me away, would be my extremely fluid ski through the old growth and back to the car with only doing about 5 herringbone steps (and getting the maximum steep ski the entire way)!?!? What a day, what a life, and always remember… “Live to Ski Another Day” and savor every single second! R.I.P. Hobart, Boots, & Trooper! The pups all left us in one season, so now they all can once again shred and rest in peace together for ever more (on the same beds, which believe it or not, Trooper dog- aka the red devil, would actually share his bed with ONLY these two brothers)!
All three of our boys doing what they did so well…
I would be stoked if everyone would check out this very special trip Dale, Boots, Hobart, Trooper and myself did back in the 2005/2006 season… My first video ( a compilation of the year of NON lift skiing, the chapter in video below was the final one of that year’s video).