there were 5 of us, all in our 40's and 50's. it was a very supportive and fun group. we took 5 days to complete the trail, but we all completed it. it was an accomplishment for all of us, but for martha it was something more special.
her great-grandfather had walked this same route back in 1898 when the gold rush was in full swing. she was the last remaining member of her family and had gold nuggets from her great-grandfathers adventures. it was a great pleasure to do this hike with martha. she brought up the rear much of the trip and each time i looked back she had a huge smile on her face. she loved that trip.
i am forever grateful that i could help her reach her goal...and have a blast in the process. i got to know her on that trip and she is so very sweet, but also more tough than you would know.
she got another cancer, a liver cancer...she fought the battle that all those with cancer fight, but she left us this morning in the wee hours. i did get a chance to talk to her last week when she was still able to enjoy the conversation. i could tell she was struggling, but just like martha, she found a way to laugh. i saw her saturday morning in the hospital as i left work. she was so tired and frail, still she looked up from her bed and tried to engage.
she kept her medical issues secret from the others on our backpack trip until we had arrived at the train station in bennett. you take the train back to skagway after you hike into the yukon territory. she took that opportunity to tell the others of her health battles.
i had my aches and complaints on that trip, but not martha...she was grateful for each moment. we should all be grateful for each moment of this life for each moment is a gift to be cherished. we should not fear doing what others think us incapable of as we are all capable of many great things.
i like to think martha is taking the chilkoot trail to heaven. enjoying the beauty of it all unencumbered by the pains of mortal life. farewell dear friend, i am a better person for having known you...