restricted access Acknowledgments
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  189 Acknowledgments Writing this book was a way for me to cope with the isolation forced upon me by ALS: not only isolation from the landscape I have always found so invigorating, but also isolation from those that I love, as my speech grew increasingly slurred and unintelligible. The twelve months that I spent writing and revising the book were the longest time period in a quarter century that I did not set foot in Yellowstone, and I have no realistic hope of ever getting there again. Writing, though, transported me through time and space to the trails of the Thorofare and the waterways of Yellowstone Lake, to glorious Absaroka mountaintops and verdant meadows, to scents of dry pine needles and damp grasses, and to the feel of the pack on my back and the tingle of frosty mornings. Similarly, searching for the book’s illustrations in the shoeboxes of photos I accumulated from almost three decades exploring the Yellowstone area impressed upon me the understanding that my journeys were not alone. Even if I was actually hiking by myself, I was part of a rich community of friends and close family that traveled the journey of life together, shouting for joy at our mountains climbed and righting the canoe when it capsized. Writing this book, then, became a way to continue the conversation with those loved ones, to look back on a life lived close to nature, and to contemplate the meanings in those life experiences. I hope that as communication gets more difficult or even impossible for me, this book becomes my voice, allowing me to speak in the way that only a book can, even after the waters of Yellowstone Lake have received my ashes. Three of the best friends a person could ask for, Josh Becker, Sean Miculka, and Eric Compas, gave me not only the canoe trip, but also 190 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS a rich setting for the book. I do not know what I ever did to deserve one such friend, let alone three (and several others beyond them), but I do know that I am many times blessed. They did not hesitate to do the trip, even though all of them had been to the Southeast Arm before and had other things they could have (perhaps should have) been doing. In addition to the many camp chores detailed in the narrative, they even lugged my walker around the Southeast Arm. Moreover, they each contributed to the trip in their own personal way, Eric with his quick wit, Josh through his steadfast calmness, and Sean by sharing a tent with me and taking care of me through the night. I am simultaneously humbled and enriched, then and now. Also making this book possible were my parents, Jim and Jeanne Yochim. In October 2014, they welcomed me into their home to care for me. Caring for an ALS sufferer involves an ever-growing list of physical chores, an unending stream of emotional struggles, and a near-complete loss of personal freedom and privacy. They have stood up to these challenges , helping me turn a road of sadness into a journey of reflection, partly by helping me carve out blocks of time in my day for writing. The journey has not been without tears, but they have given it dignity, love, and even joy, at times. Keeping me company have also been my three brothers, Jim, Paul, and Brian, and their wives (Nora, Nipa, and Jill) and sons (one each: Matthew, Kieran, and Ellis). Along with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, they bumped along with me on this rough road, helping give me the perseverance to keep typing. Similarly, the friends I have made over the years, especially from my times in Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks, have helped smooth the road. They are too numerous to name, but a few deserve special mention because they were with me on one of the hikes mentioned in this book: Dave Moser, Dave Lee, Linda Campbell, Bronco Grigg, Mike Stevens, Jim and Eamon Donovan, Bret DeYoung, and Sean, Josh, and Eric (again). Others who joined me regularly on outings not mentioned in this book but who helped develop its ideas include Ann Makley, Mark Baudendistal, Ellen Petrick, Woody and Janet Hesselbarth, Margaret and Charlie Repath, Jim Roche, Erik Skindrud, Jeff Pappas, Brenna Lissoway, Steve and Denice Swanke, Dave   ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 191 Thoma, Doug Hilborn, David Kirtley, Doug Harrison, Jared White, Mike Tercek, and Donna Sisson. Finally, a few others deserve special...


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