For those who don’t know, my mother died this past May.
Among other things, I inherited her writing–my mother was a beautiful writer. What my mother was not, is organized.
As I have sifted and sorted through the boxes over the past few months, invariably I come across something that has nothing to do with whatever it’s tucked into. If she were alive? I am certain this would have driven me nuts. Now that she is not? It makes me smile. Somewhere in her absence I have found a reservoir of patience for the woman that also happened to be my mother. Part of this I am sure has to do with the fact that I never really stopped to think of her as anything other than my mom. Even as I type that I think, what the hell was that about.
Truth is I have no idea–well–maybe some idea, but that is definitely not going to get covered in this post.
On Sunday night I pulled out the box marked, WASP, so that I could write my Veterans Day post yesterday, and while I was digging through letters, notes, photo’s, news clipping and such I happened upon an article, or a photo copy of an article, written by a reporter who worked for The Sacramento Bee.
I remember my mother telling me a really long time ago that her mother was the first woman to sleep on Mt. Shasta. Here’s another shameful truth: I didn’t believe her. Not that I said that to her, I folded it into the private place of doubt, then later while traveling past Mt. Shasta I remember saying to our kids something like this:
“According to MoMa, your Great Grand Mother was the first woman to sleep on Mt. Shasta.” In fact I probably said this more than once. And you may want to picture me rolling my eyes as I said it too.
Here is where I stand corrected.
So yesterday I happened upon the aforementioned article and this is what it said:
Former New York Congressman Reveals Mystery of Shelter He Built Years Ago, On Mt. Shasta
September 5–Several days ago former Congressman and Mrs.Benjamin Fairchild of New York and Norman Clyde a high school teacher of Leaverville, holder of the record for making (missing word)ascent from Horse Camp to the summit of Shasta, started for the (missing word).
The first night was spent at the Sierra Club Rest House while Clyde made two trips to the summit and one trip to Thumb Rock, taking supplies for the party so that they might spend two nights on the mountain. After Clyde’s third trip, the three started on the upward climb.
Spend First Night At Thumbs Rock
They went to Thumb Rock first and spent the night there building a rock shelter. The party was equipped with all the necessary things to make them comfortable, most of these things having been taken up by Clyde the human pack horse.
The second night the party camped on the summit where they relate many experiences. Eggs were boiled and made coffee from the hot spring which is only a few feet from the summit of the mountain.
Use Hot-Water Bags
They had hot water bag which they put in their blankets to keep them warm during the night one of the party reported kicking the bag from under the covers and in the morning it was frozen solid.
They report that during the night the temperature is believed to have dropped to about twenty degrees belo zero.
Forty years ago Fairchild, then a member of a United States geological survey party, made the trip to the summit and built a rock shelter which is standing to-day, and which sheltered his party forty years after he built it.
Many hikers during the past forty years have wondered who built that rock shelter on Shasta’s summit, and it only became known here when Fairchild was informing Forest Supervisor Hall of the Shasta National Forest that he intended to spend a night on the summit. During the conversation Hall remarked that a rock shelter had been built on the summit and Fairchild replied that he built it forty years ago. He was surprised to learn that it was still intact.
Honor goes to Mrs. Fairchild
Fairchild, who is a man about 60 years, has made three trips to the top of Shasta and has spent three nights at the summit coming across the continent for the experience each time. About 14 years ago he sent a night on the mountain. Mrs. Fairchild, who is much younger than her husband, made the trip without difficulty. She is declared the first woman to spend the night on the summit.
Clyde has made a number of trips to the top of Shasta this year and this was the first time he has spent a night on the top. He holds all records for climbing the peak. He made four trips up the mountain during the three days on this trip and this itself is a record.
My mother had in fact gotten the story right, her mother, my Grandma, was the first woman recorded to have slept on top of Mt. Shasta. And the reporter was right too, my Grandma was younger than her husband, my Grandpa, by 30 years. But that is yet another story altogether. The photo copy is of poor quality. At the top of the page I can see that it was, WEDNESDAY, SEPT, after that the paper must have been torn. If you noticed where I began the article above, the reporter began with Sept. 5– Given my mom was born in 1924, I went back to the calendar in 1923. Sure enough, September 5th, was a Wednesday.
Clearly the women on the Fairchild side were pioneers. I love imagining my Grandma, a woman I remember for the card games she taught me, hiking up to and sleeping on the summit of Shasta, a volcano located at the southern end of the Cascade Range in Siskiyou County, California. Reaching 14,179 feet up to the sky, it is one of the most beautiful sights to behold.
Edee Lemonier says
You come from a long, proud line of incredible! What an amazing, wonderful story!
Elin Stebbins Waldal says
Thanks Edee, glad you liked it. 🙂
Lois Alter Mark says
Wow! What a legacy, and you are continuing a line of strong, amazing women. I think your mom has left you a real gift with her letters and writing, and I can’t wait to see how you add your Elin touch to them to present them to the world.
Kim LePiane says
I couldn’t agree with Lois more. Your Mother left you a precious gift which we are all getting to enjoy as well through you.
Mary Lanzavecchia says
Strong women beget strong women. 🙂
Jen and Tonic says
Your family history is so colorful! I’ve climbed Mt. Shasta so to think of your grandma being the first woman to have slept up there leaves me awestruck.
Elin Stebbins Waldal says
How wonderful that you have climbed Shasta. I have not. We drive past it every time we drive north to WA and I never tire of watching it as we approach then leave it behind.