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ReunionPalooza - SierraMel & Friends
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“Welcome back, Mel. I should check in here more frequently. I may be interested in this trip. Nice to see some old familiar names here.”
Sad News for All
“I regret to inform everyone that Melanie Garside passed away unexpectedly of a blood clot to the lung on Monday, October 25th, 2010.
We have lost someone very special, someone who loved the Sierra more than we know. She relished in the opportunity to seek her faith amongst the mountains, valleys, the meadows, lakes, and streams of one of the most beautiful places in the whole of California. Mel enjoyed sharing her wealth of knowledge of the best places to camp, fish, rest and breathe in the most pristine, alpine air, and in an ironic twist, the lungs which filled her spirit with all that she loved about the Sierra Nevada fell victim to something as unpredictable as a blood clot.
I received an email from her husband John, informing me of this very sad news, and asking that I post the announcement. If you wish to contact him directly, please email me and I will forward his phone mumber.
News will follow regarding the Reds Meadow trip... stay tuned.
“Oh no. =( I'm so sorry to hear this.”
“I will really miss you Mel, what a great gal and backpacking friend.
Love you Mel!
“I am so very sorry to hear this news. I walked trail with Mel only one time, when she came up to the Sisters for Old Timers' 70th birthday hike. It was a memorable trip, and Mel brought much spark and fun to that trip. Hers was a unique and special soul.
I created a new account here a couple days ago (my old one seems to be unfriendly to me these days) and was planning to join in on the discussion for this Palooza - possibly even come down to play if the fates were willing. Once again, reality demonstrates that fate is a fickle thing.
Perhaps this Palooza might become a Mel Memorial Palooza. Methinks she would like that.
“Wow. I was really looking forward to finally meeting Mel. Another life perhaps.
Condolences to her family and those who loved Sierra Mel.”
“That's exactly what I was thinking, strider. I believe she would want that, and of course, we all know Mel would be there in spirit.”
“Hello All.... Heard from Strider of this very sad news and hopped online to send my condolences to John and her family and the entire Backpacker.com community. It's been over 10 years since I first met Mel. Still have her Back Country Cookbook. A lot of feelings at the moment.
“Hello everybody. It's been some time since I've shared my voice on this forum, but with the recent death of my friend Mel, I had to come back and share some thoughts.
Mel was a special friend who touched the lives of many of us, both on and off this site. She was the heart beat of the first Lama Rama Ding Dong trip back in the late 90's, which consisted of people from all across the USA.
Mel was gracious beyond words and full of life, bringing out the best of times when she was around.
We love you Mel and we will miss you dearly. Thank you for caring enough to become a part of our lives and give us memories we will cherish forever.
“My friend Mel, Met more bears with that woman than I will most likly ever see again. My prayers are with Jon and family.
I agree the trip should continue, for Mel. Yo bear!”
“This was shocking news to me and my family. A true friend I hiked with many times. When my son was 9, we enjoyed a 10-day trip with her. She introduced me to llama packing and I would not have my llamas today if it were not for her. I stayed the night at her house last month, visiting with her and John, she looked better than ever....seemed to have her spark back. This is truely hard to swallow.
last edited: 10/31/10 9:19:14 AM”
“I just spoke with John a few minutes ago, and he's doing as well as can be expected.
One of the first things he mentioned was that we should continue with our plans to organize the trip Mel was looking forward to, so I urged him to post a few comments here on TT, under Mel's handle - keep an eye out for it.
John also mentioned having a Memorial next June, since he and Mel were married in that month many years ago. He will keep me updated on his plans, and I'll share them here as they arise.”
“Oh no... I am so sorry to read this. I was really looking forward to meeting Mel next year along with everyone else. My condolences to her family and friends including all on this site who knew her.”
“Wow - what a shock! Mel was a true original, a little rough around the edges but generous with her knowledge and back yard. Many of us were treated to her own brand of Sierra adventure.
May she rest in peace!
My condolences to John.”
“It is a true testament to her character to be liked by so many.
I wish I would have taken the opportunity to meet her.”
“Man, I really can't believe this. I only did one trip with Mel, but it was a blast. And I have enjoyed her cookbook for years. Just as we were all talking of getting together with her...this is so sad.
I would be all for continuing the trip in her honor.”
“I'm as sad at this news as one can be over the loss of someone he never met. From all accounts I've heard she was truly an incredible person and I was greatly looking forward to meeting her next summer.”
“Sad news indeed, her spirit will continue to roam the mountains. She was so passionate and brought so many people together, many of you are friends to this day because of Mel...RIP.”
“Obiwan, I never met John so I don't think it would be appropriate for me to contact him at this time. Please pass good wishes to him for me, and I hope to meet him next summer if the fates are gracious.
Flowers belong in high meadows, destined to host bees and rejuvenate soil - not wilting in vases. If there is a charity or memorial fund in play, please let me know.
“Shocking news...though I never met her in person, we chatted on this site for years and right now I feel like I lost a dear old friend. :(
Rest in peace, Mels. Anyone who knew you, whether virtually or in real-life, knew you lived life to the fullest! xoxo”
“I just heard from AmyG about Mel. How sad! I enjoyed Mel's friendship and the friends I made on the three llama trips I was on. The first llama trip will always have a special place in my heart:
My condolences to John.”
Phil, Thanks for that Link
“Phil, those pix sure bring back some memories, thanks. I hope everyone checking in here takes a few moments to peruse some great times.”
“So sorry to hear about Mel, sounded like a very neat lady. Thank you for the photo links.”
I am writing to you all today to ask if I may join your reunion. I am Melanie's daughter Renee, and I spoke with John last Monday and heard of Mom's passing. Truth is, mom and I had a falling out, but I hoped that we could get passed it and reunite someday. I will miss her terribly, and I wish I could get back the years I missed with her over all the stupid stuff. There is nothing more important than your family ya'll...never forget that.
I remember all the fun we had while I was growing up. She was the mom on my sixth grade field trip that all the kids wanted to be with because they thought she was "soooo cool!" Another memory...sitting on the chair lift at Mammoth squirting skiers with wine from her Botta bag. We laughed so hard!
Anyway ...don't want to ramble. I hope that I can join you all at your reunion.
Much Love, Renee Garside”
“What a great loss to Trail Talk and the whole Sierra hiking community. Mel was one of kind. What a great soul. I found out about this last night on the sierra topics site so I thought I'd come back to the old stomping grounds to see if any of the old folks were still around. It's good to see familiar names.
Last night I was thinking of Mel and the fun times and how she was so important to the success of this site. She brought a lot of people together here. She was funny and smart and she just made you want to be a part of her crazy llama hiking Sierra world. To know that she was trying to get everyone together for a reunion is wonderful and sad at the same time. I'm not sure if I can make it but when it happens, wherever I am, I'll raise a glass to Mel.”
“I just read this thread and just want to say I am sorry for everyone's loss. I remember always reading of the exciting times with Mel on the Sierra trips!
On the bright side of everything I enjoy seeing the familiar names of Trail Talk past!”
“Good grief, Renee!!
You are crackin' me up!
Laughin' beats hell out of cryin'.
Your mom certainly was a nut and I'm sorry that I never got to meet her.
"Wish they all could be California Girls"”
“Nice to see some people from the past-dunk, strider, nomad, flip, solitary hiker...to name a few.
I tried to find an obituary or something about any memorial services and such, but struck out. I didn't call her husband, John. She was raised in Long Beach which is not far from me.”
If you go over to www.highsierratopix.com I think that Obi said John was going to have a memorial service in June next year as that was the month they were married.
Hope you and your family are doing well.”
A great loss
“I think Mel was the first TrailTalker I met. And thanks to her I've met many more.
John, Renee my empathy to you both.
I'm sure she would want this Reunion to go on as planned if for no other reason that for us all to raise a glass in her honor.”
“Let's do this thing!”
1999 SierraPalooza photos
“Just went back to the photos from Phil's link. That trip will have memories for a lifetime. Made some EXCELLENT friends and have had so much fun through this site. We all look so young in those photos!
God Willing, I will be on the reunion/memorial hike in 2011.”
“Of course you are welcome to come.
It appears there will be two events - first, the June Memorial that John is planning, and second, the reunion hike/gathering/whatever at Reds Meadow in early July.
John, I'm sure, will keep us posted on the former...
If you would like to join the latter, go to the Trips page, and add your name to the list. The duration of your time there is up to you, as is what you do when you get there. At the moment, the details are still pretty fluid, so check in on the Trips page, or this thread, periodically to get updates.
If you clieck on my name in this post, you can send an email with your contact info., and I'll do the same. This applies to anyone else out there, too.
It's really great to see so many people add their thoughts here. Clearly, Mel had a far-reaching impact on us, each in a way we'll never forget. I can't help but believe she would raise holy hell, were we to allow this "reunion" to fizzle away. She jumped at the idea, and would be disappointed if we allowed it to evaporate. After all... she's IS planning to BE there!”
Llama Albums from 1999, 2000, & 2001
“Llama-Rama 1999 - Humphrey's Basin:
Llama-Rama 2000 - Shepherd's Pass to Wright Lakes Basin:
Llama-Rama 2001 - A Spaced Oddesy:
“Those are great! Thanks for sharing. : )”
That just re-enforces all the good things I think about TT and the people I have met.”
“Condolences Renee and John, like AmyG we chatted aplenty here in the good ole days of TT (I used to guide llama hikes for a boy scout camp), but I never did manage to get to one of her hugely famous llama trips. So I never got to meet her in the flesh. Too bad for me for sure. She is one of the original legends on this site.
Awesome seeing some of the older names tho.
I'll keep an eye on the trip dates. Thank you Phil for those trip links.”
“Hey Nomad! Sorry if I'm wrong but didn't you and Meerkat marry? I was wondering how she is doing.”
“Renee, I am glad you have such good times to remember. Similar family losses over the years have taught me that the pain mellows with time, but the joy from the good memories only grows. I wish you and John much peace and happiness and I hope to meet you next summer.
Thank you Obi for your thoughtful and kind words, and for taking the reins of the palooza planning. Thanks Phil for the photo links, makes me mad at myself all over again for not making any of those trips. Hellos back at the old familiar crowd.
“I'm stunned. Saw Freedom mention this on her Facebook when I checked in this morning. Sounded awesome..now this latest news. So sad.
My condolences to John and I share the sorrow with those who knew her.
“Wow, I didn't know her but I'm always saddened by the loss of someone in our backpacking community. Blessings to her family.”
A Thanksgiving Thought...
“There haven't been many posts in the past couple weeks - not that I expected any - but before Thanksgiving came around, I wanted to take a moment to extend the most sincere of Thanksgiving wishes to John, Mel, and their respective families.
The holiday season brings with it many remembrances of family, good times and bad, and reminds us that through it all, we've stuck together, whether it be as family, friends, or the passions we share. This week, as we remember those close to us, my hope is that all of us who have such fond memories of Mel will continue that tradition by offering thanks for the memories we take with us of those times we had her in our midst.
We all continue to keep you, John, in our memories as well, and though we know this will be a difficult holiday, you are in our thoughts, and we are there in whatever capacity fate allows for, to support you.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.”
Wishing the best for you all.”
“I haven't had the nerve to come back to this thread after reading of Mel's passing from Snow Nymph on Facebook. I was so excited to see she was back - and then what I felt to be a bitter irony of her being taken away.
But I finally came here to remember Mel and see how the trip planning is going... and glad to see it IS going! I had so hoped to meet Mel. She was the spirit of the early Trailtalk. I mean, I can remember some dude (??) publishing supposed chapters from a supposed book... wasn't he some brawny, pot-growing character??? And wasn't Mel a heroine in that??? LOL! Memories... and fill me in on the blank spots....
Condolences to Mel's family and friends and to those who knew her. And to those who had hoped to meet this free-spirit.
I've got this trip on my radar. It would be good to see some of you again (you know who you are, like JerBear, Freedom, Phil) ... and meet others. Where is the closest airport in this area? Reno? Or somewhere in Cali?”
“Lizs, I think Reno is probably the closest airport, unless there's a smaller, regional airport near Bishop. There IS an airport in South Lake Tahoe, and Sacramento, too, but that would be further away. Actually, Sacramento airport is about 75 minutes from me.
There could be other options, too, since it may be convenient to fly in to a location from which you can be picked up by others planning on this trip as well.
Stay tuned... no matter where people may come from, there should be more than one option that will get them to the church on time!
“I was thinking Fresno may be closer, but Reno would be less trouble.
Been a long time since there was an epic TT campout in the west. I've never been to any of the legendary TT trips.
I may try to get a backpacking trip together to the Emigrant Wilderness or Saddlebag Lakes area the week before.”
“This could be a really cool trip...”
Place & Date!
“Already on my calandar for July something.”
“Well, Mozark, the memorial John has planned will take place in June, the date as yet unknown... the reunionpalooza trip was scheduled for the July 4th weekend, though 7/1 is a Friday, and in all likelihood, some will be there ahead of time.”
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