Sunday, May 10, 2009


a friend passed away today. her name was martha jacobs. she had gotten breast cancer several years ago. she had also had kidney cancer and secondary to chemo for cancer had heart issues which led to her having an aicd implanted for dysrhythmias...i knew her from working with her. she was an excellent respiratory therapist. but mostly, she was just a kind and happy soul. i plan trips each year and mostly martha had always been excited for me, but showed no interest in participating. that changed a few years ago when i mentioned that we were planning on hiking the chilkoot trail out of skagway. she immediately said she wanted to go. despite her many health issues she went out hiking frequently and got her gear together for the trip. several folks at work pulled me aside to tell me how fragile she was and question me for including her. i know her husband was concerned about her desire to hike this 33 mile, rough trail. she was determined...
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...

just a few pictures from the of the remnants of life from 1898. they are all over the place on this historic trail. above...the trail as we saw it on summit day. lots of bouldering on this hike. i think the fog saved us from seeing how far we could fall and how far we still had to go. below is a pretty lake in the yukon territory en route to skagway.

martha is in the blue. enjoying every minute...sandra stands behind her. the travelers were myself, martha, sandra, gail and sue. you can read details of the trip back in blogs posted in february or january i believe. i'll try and post more pictures tomorrow.


  1. You said it perfectly Betsy...Martha was a sweet and happy soul who never hesitated to reach out. She reached out to me when I was new here and most importantly reached out to support and guide me when I had my own brush with breast cancer last winter. I am a better and stronger woman for knowing her.

  2. Wow--what a privilege to read about Martha. So much more than looking at a photograph.