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Mountain Climbing

July 22, 2017

Best Western Paradise Inn, Dillon, Montana.

July 22, 2017

At my 50th high school class reunion my first impression was to encounter Wade Hansen.  Well, not exactly.  Two anonymous looking old women looked through their pre-printed name tags for my name, but couldn’t find it.  I didn’t tell them my name because I wanted to know if they recognized me.  Wade was talking to an ancient woman and hadn’t noticed me.  To my surprise the aged woman was the same age as I was.

Hard to find enough superlatives when talking about Wade Hansen.  At the ten-year reunion he had the most children.  Yesterday, Wade and I enthusiastically shook hands.  His hand seemed about three sizes larger than mine and made of steel coated with … with whatever fingers are coated with.  Finger material, I guess.  You see, in 1966 Wade and I set a mountain climbing speed record for climbing Mount Torrey in the Pioneer Range about thirty miles, or so, from Dillon, Montana.  I told Wade it was my principal claim to fame.  We were about seventeen when we — Wade, actually, got a wild hair to race to the top of the mountain and invited me along.

“Do you remember how long it took us?” he asked.  I replied two hours.  “One hour, forty minutes,” he said.  Then he added that he and his kids were going to climb two mountains this weekend.  He invited me along.  Scared the hell out of me.  I told him I had to work (I did).  Later, I got an idea for an excuse that would sound plausible.  “No thanks, I can’t climb the mountain.  I’ve got to get a colonoscopy,” I would lie.

Wade wore bib overalls and a straw hat and exuded great physical strength.  I couldn’t seem to evade him, even though I wiggled into and through knots of my classmates.  I eventually parked myself near a couple of intellectuals, Ed Mooney and Jim Feathers and his family.  Wade caught up with me, still with boundless energy.  He got my name and address and phone number and promised to call me when he got ready to climb the nearly thirteen thousand foot mountains in the Bear Tooth range.  Didn’t help that I protested that I’m so out of condition I can barely hike two miles on the flat.  I tried to fog the issue by changing the subject to our oldest son who is an iron man athlete.  “I’ll get a hold of him so he can climb too,” promised Wade.

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