Lars left our world Friday night. I had a sense of his  passing that night,as I was preparing to go to sleep alone in my tent. When I got to my cell phone messages at midday on Saturday, I pretty much knew what Judith's messages to me were going to say.

Lars, along with Chuck, has been my best friend these last 3 decades

He is as close as a brother. We have been through life-and-death times together. Our personalities and reactions were forged in the same furnace. When I talked to him about this closeness, in our next-to-last conversation he said it was like we had gone to war together. That rang true.

Before Lars' died, one of my big fears was of dying from a long protracted illness -- that is, dying the way Lars had to go.

If you had given me the choice a few years ago of death by cancer or death by drowning I would've picked drowning, face down (*** that's a little joke **).( I came quite close to drowning once.)

Having watched Lars go through his protracted painful death with grace, humor, and courage, surrounded by people who loved him, I'm no longer sure of that choice, and my fear is largely gone.

Remember scouting a particularly big rapid, hemming and hawing about the possible route, about whether or not you could make the moves, about whether to portage or run? Remember the guy who gets in the boat first, the test probe, who shows you with his body and his strokes that the route you had selected was not only plausible, but quite reasonable?

Lars has gotten in his boat, made the run in front of our eyes. He ran it clean, in style threading the giant holes, punching the two he had to hit, made all the cuts, and has made it "safely" to the bottom.

He is there -- he's made it through the final canyon,

the final drop -- death.

Thanks, one more time, for showing me a route : maybe I can do it in something approaching your style.