forty days. forty stories.
I dug around and found some images of Joolee and I’ve been trying to remember the details of our times together. I mostly have impressions of SCINTILLATING ENERGY and a huge generous heart of playful determination. Just thinking about her makes me feel sort of goofy and happy, but, what are the details? ….we met so haphazardly; Must have been in 2000 or 2001? I was bedding down at the base of Mt. Shasta, or maybe I was waking up, but somehow Joolee was there wearing enormous 1970s Sophia Loren-type sunglasses. (This was before they were retro-cool, so clearly she is a fashion mavin among other things.) We must have struck up a conversation and Joolee invited me to climb up with her. I was on some sort of solo mission, so I reluctantly declined her invite.
It was probably best, because when I finally made it up to Helen Lake, Joolee had been there for hours and was happily lounging around on the rocks and taking in the scenery. I think she’d already made it up to the summit and back. My respect for her was enormous. She also gave minimalism a new name. I have a photo of her “camp site” at Helen Lake, and her accoutrements are spare. I think all her gear fit in a day pack. I have a sense of her being incredibly hilarious, yet thoughtful as she regaled me with stories and insights there at 10,000 feet. She didn’t seem to take the whole mountaineering thing too seriously, whereas I was grimly set on groveling my way to the top. What did we talk about? Wandering, traveling, adventures, probably. Whatever it was, it was enough for us to form an enduring friendship that I am so grateful to have.
She is such a rare combination of depth and levity. Our friendship has endured, even with such a brief and airy beginning. A little while later Joolee invited me to join a NOLS climbing trip in Arizona. We got to spend the week in the snow, living in a tent, cooking dubious meals and doing some singing and dancing and a lot of laughing, as one is apt to do with Joolee. She did something courageous and outlandish on that trip. Oh, what was it….something in the snow….She’ll have to remind me when next we meet, which I hope is soon!
Happy Birthday woman of wonder!