latest Wilderness Symposium (see
Winter Packet) despite its obvious success had some
strange shadows of death pass across its face.
On January 31, the first day
of the two-day slide fest, one of its longtime attendees,
a former presenter and a dedicated Che-Mun subscriber Paul
Barsevskis passed away after a courageous battle against
leukemia at the age of 52.
Paul and wife Lyn were regular
attendees at the symposium and we had met there every year
since the first one in 1986. Our deepest sympathies go to
Lyn and sons Mark and Peter.
On Saturday February 1,
ripples of news about the Shuttle disaster went through
the disbelieving crowd and even later we all learned of
the seven young Alberta private school students who died
in an avalanche while pursuing the outdoor sport they
loved - skiing in Glacier Park, B.C.
The challenge of potentially
dangerous outdoor sports is a bafflement to many. What’s
the point?, they often ask. To those of us who do take
those chances beyond the normal, the rewards are not hard
to figure out. Better to go in the backcountry doing what
you love than on a crowded highway.
Fate, it seems, has the
number of many of us, but it is the vast minority. And
we must life life to the fullest, while not disregarding
common sense rules and preparations.
A famed member of The
Voyageurs paddling group of the 50s and 60s, Blair
Fraser, had always said if he had a choice of how to go,
it would be at the end of the last run of the day at Mt
Tremblant, the famous Quebec ski resort.
He ended up perishing while
canoeing with his friends on a river that he loved, in
May 1968 at Rollway Rapids on the Petawawa River. The
bronze cross that bears his name, erected by The
Voyageurs, reminds all those who travel this Algonquin
Park river of Blair and his fellow paddlers.
It serves, too, as a
reminder of the inherent dangers in canoeing wild
rivers. But it also stands as a beacon; to a man who
lived his life celebrating the natural wonders of the
country he loved. Wilderness travellers share that
sentiment, feel that love and breathe it in deeply every
chance they can get. Because . . . it doesn’t last