Resting in Peace in a National Park

For millions of visitors each year, the national parks are a playground and a sanctuary. For a few, they’re a final stop.
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For millions of visitors each year, the national parks are a playground and a sanctuary. For a few, they’re a final stop.
resting in peace

Photo by: Chung Hu

My wife, April Goode, and I had planned a five-day trip from the South Bass Trail to the Boucher Trail in the Grand Canyon with a group we met on BACKPACKER’s online forums. The first day was hard, but the company was good. We sweated and laughed in equal parts.

Around noon on May 15, 2007, we were on our way to Ruby Creek when April started overheating. She asked for a rest. I left her in a small patch of shade and went ahead to try to locate a better spot. Five minutes later, one of the others came running up, saying he thought April had gone into heatstroke. We hustled back to her and tried to cool her down, pouring all our water on her. It was no use. At the age of 56, she died in my arms.

Three years later, I was about to marry again, and I felt it was important to honor April while looking forward to a new chapter in my life. I returned to the spot where April died. I left our wedding rings on that ledge, in a small cairn, and scattered some of her ashes there. She died in a beautiful place, doing what she loved, with the person she loved. Not all of us get that privilege.

Vince Gillette
Largo, FL