By: Dean Acheson
FRIENDS GATHER ON SOMBRERO TO HONOR MARIS VALKASS
At the Maris memorial service last spring, several of us, in talking with Anna Valkass, decided to do a memorial climb for Maris Valkass who passed away from Lou Gehrig's disease. Anna said Sombrero was Maris's favorite peak.
On November 10th, 13 hiking friends of Maris set out for the top of Sombrero: Dean Acheson (leader), Sherry Harsh (assistant), Pat Acheson, Bill Gray, Bill Stevens, Tom Fergusen, Karen Fergusen, Karen Leonard, June Kerata, Gary Murta and Randy Bernard. Neal Scott and Judy Ware had set out an hour early, and we met up with them just before the final bump. The canine contingent was represented at the top by Bell, a member of the Tom and Karen Fergusen family. (Note: this was Bell's very first DPS peak!) The climb featured a toast to Maris on the top. Tom Fergusen planted a beautiful cactus from Karen's garden (we all were reminded that Maris was fond of cacti, having cared for two cactus gardens of his own.)
Joining us on our return for a pot luck in the DPS grand style were Keats Hayden, Bob Greenawalt and his friend Murti, Jake Holshuh and Sue Leverton, Linda McDermitt and Phil and Evelyn Rher. Matey (Jake and Sue's sailing canine companion) and Gozer (Dean and Pat's canine just entering retirement from strenuous climbing) also joined in the camp festivities. This was followed by a traditional campfire with a special toast to Maris and "Maris stories" in which everyone told of their adventures with Maris.
And what's a true DPS campfire without Sherry Harsh's special rendition of The Cremation of Sam McGee.?
Next morning Pat Acheson and Linda McDermitt treated everyone to a delicious pancake breakfast in the typical DPS pancake breakfast style. This served as a perfect ending to a beautiful, most memorable event.
All were touched with grateful appreciation of the years of leads, good humor, generosity and helpful assistance Maris was always ready to give. Maris will be missed, but he'll always hold a special place in the heart of the DPS and the hearts of his many friends.
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