Uncompahgre Peak Colorado, United States 1 Aug 11
Odometer 71,155 m 114,513 km

Only six cosmic elements--carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur--make up the building blocks of life. Be it butterfly or buffalo, salmonella or spruce tree, hippopotamus or human, we’re all built from the same stuff. But stardust alone is insufficient. Without a spark, a soul, an indefinable special sauce to animate these bio-molecules into something greater than the sum of their parts--we’d all be nothing more than so many disparate grains of sand, hurtling through space on a lifeless rock.

This codependent nature of matter and the energy that enlivens it becomes clearer with the passing of a loved one. Their body lies there as it had a moment before their death, unchanged, but their spirit is gone. When this happened to my pal Tod, who after a long and heroic battle finally succumbed to a rare lung disease, it made me wonder: what is it that makes some relationships stronger than others?
Tod Le Fevre, accomplished skier, climber, boater, pilot and all-around-outdoorsman, happily sailing with family and friends on Lake Chelan, Washington in June 2010. Unbeknownst to me then, this would be our last day together.
There may be no greater bond between two people than friendship. That’s because unlike blood family or marriage, it’s the only partnership that’s purely elective. You can choose to be friends with someone--or not--based solely on your own predilections. And unlike the others, it’s flexible, allowing each participant perfect freedom to do what feels right at any given time.

That said, just because it’s optional doesn’t make it easy: true friendship requires an ongoing investment of time and energy. It thrives only when nurtured. It withers with neglect.

I first met Tod through a series of odd circumstances that left even me, not being the sort to believe in
meant-to-be’s, shaking my head at the shear coincidence of it all. Regardless, we were fortunate to cross paths, and from that first encounter I sensed I’d met a long-lost brother.

We quickly discovered that we shared common interests, activities and sense of humor, mutual friends and experiences, and a similar worldview. He was an environmentalist and renewable energy advocate, a deep thinker and a generous man who I immediately admired and grew to respect. He wasn’t afraid to challenge me if he thought I was out of line, and could take the heat when it was his turn in the hot seat. We loved to laugh and clown around. We passionately analyzed
everything. And we weren’t afraid to ask--and sometimes attempt to answer--life’s really difficult questions.

Through sailing, scuba diving, rafting, hiking and paragliding, our mutual love of the outdoors translated into an unspoken language. We could sit, equally captivated by a sun setting over ocean waves, wind turbines spinning in the breeze, or ancient redwoods soaring skyward--with nothing at all to add. In fact, he would often interrupt an ongoing thought to simply state, “I know
you know what I mean.” And I did.
A procession of family and friends climbs to the summit of 14,314 foot Uncompahgre Peak to wish Tod a bon voyage.
Tod enriched the lives of the people he came into contact with, and they turned out in force to share his memory when it was time to say goodbye. His wife Marti and their two children (Tod's daughter is the “barefooted pixie” pictured on the ENVIRONMENT page) organized a farewell tribute to their husband and father on Uncompahgre Peak, a fitting highpoint in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountain High that Tod adored.
And from that windy summit, as we cast aloft the stardust that Tod was made of, I thought of all he had been and all he might become. Yes, Mother Nature would see to it. She’ll carry him into the clouds to return as snow and rain, finding his way to the ocean and back to the mountains again. She’ll feed his nutrients to the colorful columbines and Indian paintbrush to grace the alpine meadows. And she’ll impart his strength to the bighorn sheep to scale again the rocky crags that touch the sky.

Tod’s essence, once captive to his ailing body, will be set free. He’ll continue to inspire as he swirls in the air around us. He’ll course through the veins of a living universe, only recycled in different form. I’m sure he would approve.

And I, ever faithful, will return to camp in the shadow of Uncompahgre. I’ll laugh, tell stories aloud, and pose the questions we so often pondered together--knowing my pal can hear me, knowing our friendship endures, and listening for his reply in the echo off the cliffs.
Super Tod

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