A couple years before I was born, my Grandfather and Grandmother Tarr (Moms parents) opened a resort at Baker Lake in Washington state. It was a fishing resort called Tarr’s Resort. It would be the central gathering point during the summer for the family through 1975, when my grandfather died there on the eve of selling it. It was rustic yet sparkling clean and tidy. There were “old” cabins from a location up lake that Grandpa hauled down to the new location and he also built several new cabins. In all, there were 13 cedar walled units and tons of camping spots. As kids it was a great place to explore the woods, learn about bears, pick huckleberries and swim in the glacier fed waters. A typical memory I have of “the lake” is gathering there
with extended family. As the adults reveled and told stories and ate and drank, we kids played outside late into the night. We would hear the voices of the adults as we scurried around the area hunting bullfrogs and creeping through the woods on the look out for the bears that frequently came in to get food from campers. It is where my love of being in the woods began.
We were given much latitude while there. My grandfather was not a fan of wimpy sniveling kids. He was a tough guy logger with a huge sense of humor. I loved every minute I spent with him. I would help him make “fish food” that campers bought to chum the fish into biting their line. I dug worms, repaired buildings, bailed and cleaned boats, pumped gasoline into five gallon cans for the vast amount of time there was no generator running to power the place. Grandma was quiet and worked nonstop. I helped her clean cabins, make meals, bake pies, pick berries, pull weeds, wash cloths in an old wringer washer and do the dishes. Hard work was not lacking in my family and it is one of the lessons for which I am most grateful .
The last time I was at the lake was in 2007. By then the Forest Service had taken over the resort and ran it. The amenities were dilapidated, but you could not take away the beauty of the lake. And sitting at the campfire with over 20 family members I had enjoyed that place wit was one of the best things ever. And when I went away, I was contented by the experiences there that had formed part of who I am.
My brother went to climb Mount Baker this week. He had no desire to go to the location where the resort once was. His pilgrimage would take him up on the mountain that looked over us all those years. And while epic rain at base camp meant lots of snow up higher and too much likelihood of avalanche to attempt the summit, he was excited to have been there battling the elements.
There are places we go in our lives that become such a part of us that it is impossible to remove the memory of them. The smells and sounds are conjurable upon demand. Tarr’s Resort, Baker Lake is my childhood in so many ways. With the passing of so many who made it that, I find myself traveling back there in my mind ever so much more. If only to hear and see them all again in my mind’s eye.
I love the mountains. In some ways I think it is because I know so little about them. My mind yearns to understand the hugeness, the velocity of their formation and the impact they have on weather here, there and everywhere. Growing up in the Pacific North West afforded me the all to often taken for granted luxury of seeing big mountain wherever I looked. My favorite mountain growing up was Mount Baker. This is the view I remember from years of staying a my grandparents’ fishing resort on Baker Lake. Tarr’s Resort it was called.
I hiked all over these forests in the shadow of the mountain throughout my youth. It started my life long interest in mountains and the people who climb them.
After my 2012 trek to the base of Mt Everest, a co-worker who works with senior programs told me that a man who had climbed Mt. Everest was speaking to seniors here in Vegas. I took note and then looked him up to see if she had the info right. Boy did she. It was Alan Arnette, a tireless worker for the eradication of Alzheimer’s as well as accomplished mountaineer who has climbed the Seven Summits (The tallest peak on each continent) and an impressive list of summits and attempts beyond that including such wonders as Ama Dablam, Cho Oyo, Lobuche East, Ben Nevis, Mt. Blanc and on and on. Add to that countless fourteeners in his back yard in Colorado. Clearly a man who loves the mountains and the challenges they pose, he has something he works harder, longer and more passionately on than any one of those climbs. The eradication of Alzheimer’s. His beloved mother, Ida, suffered with this disease and he has worked tirelessly to see that funds are raised to rid us of this thing. Recently, Alan announced that he was going to climb K2. One of the, if not the most dangerous, difficult climbs on the planet. He is doing it to continue the fight against Alzheimer. I am excited to say that I have joined his team as a fundraiser. He is looking to raise 1 million dollars for the cause. Now listen to me here…HE DOES NOT EARN ANYTHING OF THE FUNDS HE HELPS RAISE! He has linked up with very reputable organizations in order to bring in money that will be used for research and eradication, not climbing. So when the chance to join in and be a team leader was presented to me I jumped on the chance!
I am a team captain. My team is “In Memory of Alida: K2 Climb Against Alzheimer’s”. Join with me and help raise that money. Every breath Alan takes in preparation for his climb and while he is on K2 is about ending Alzheiner’s and not about him. That is the kind of guy he is. Click the link here and you can join my team and we can all help. From the least amount to the greatest, every single individual penny counts. Just like every single individual memory does. Our minds are as huge and powerful as the great mountains of the world. They do so many things that are just amazing. But when they start to malfunction because of a disease that just has to have a cure, we are all vulnerable and we can all try to do something.
The picture above is my grandmother. One of the sweetest women who graced the planet. She was smart and funny and she, along with my grandfather, ran that little fishing resort where I first found my love of the mountains. Where Mt Baker called out to me every one of those wonderful Pacific Northwest Days. I don’t know what I would do without those memories.