Even at 88 and with limited vision, Paul is a vital man. He is charming and warm. I can easily see how so many "dudes" would find it within themselves to conquer the Tetons, as long as Paul was by their side, encouraging them along.
Paul has many accomplishments to his name besides mountain climber. In World War II, he taught the 10th Mountaineering Division how to survive in bitter cold. Also in that period, he was the only one the Department of Agriculture found who could deal with the Russians in the Lend/Lease program.
He is a teacher, a writer, a black jack dealer and best of all, a story teller. Ricardo Ochoa, the segment's videographer, and I listened spellbound to his many stories the day we spent with him. You could spend lots of happy time just listening to Paul.
This web site has a few articles on Paul. Take some time to read more about him. He has an amazing story. There are also links to NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School which Paul founded. And there are some fun links if you want to learn more about mountain climbing and the Tetons.
Ernest Hemingway wrote, "No matter how high you are in the mountains, there is always a slope going up." I see Paul always going up too. He is on a seemingly nonstop lecture tour, telling folks about the importance of outdoor education. He has a contract for two more books. He will always be climbing to the top of whatever challenge he faces next. And when he returns, he'll have a great story to tell.
Frank Gillette's wife is probably glad we're finished with this piece. You see, I left more messages with her than I can even count. And that's because her husband is never home! He's always out flying. If the wind is the right direction, he's gone.
We learned that from firsthand experience. The first time we attempted to film Frank, the wind was so good Frank wanted to keep going. He just flew away! We had asked him to stay near us so we could get some good shots, but he preferred to be at 12,000 feet. I can't say I blame him.
The next time the wind changed direction just as we got there, and a fire started on the mountain behind his house. Not good flying weather, needless to say.
And the third time, unfortunately, was not a charm. A nice man came all the way from Twin Falls to take the videographer, Pat Metzler, up in his ultralight. You see, we figured Frank would be "catching some air" again and this would be the best way to see him.
But this time, the winds kept him down low. Despite the struggle, I hope we managed to show you something of Frank's talent and enthusiasm. He's known all over the West not only for his flying abilities, but also for his generosity of spirit. Many young gliders I spoke with said Frank had helped them out with food, a place to stay, equipment and rides.When I relayed their appreciation to him, he got tears in his eyes.
I believe Frank will be flying for many more years. In fact, he'll probably fly right up till the end. Hopefully he'll have a good north wind up the hill.
The first thing I noticed about Horace is that he doesn't look or act his age. "The doctor says I'm disgustingly healthy," says the 86-year old Grangeville, ID resident. "I come from a tribe of people who lived to be old. I think I kinda inherited it."
Henderson always knew what he wanted to be: a cowboy. And back then, no self-respecting cowboy would use leather reins. So as a youngster, Henderson taught himself how to use the materials at hand, and there were lots of cowhides lying around!
"Rawhide is untanned cowhide," he reminded me, after I made the mistake of calling it leather. "It's just what the name implies; it's not tanned. Just the hair is taken off."
Henderson figures there are maybe 20 people in the state of Idaho who braid rawhide. It's "an old cowboy craft that's just about died out," explains Henderson. "It just got too easy to buy leather reins."
Just how good is Horace? In the only competition he entered, the 1987 Idaho County Fair, he won Best of Show. "I figured that was good enough," he says. "So I didn't go back."
He has, however, sold some of his work to movie stars. The wagon master on the television program "Wagon Train" used reins created by Henderson.
His braiding techniques will also be on display in another Outdoor Idaho program, "Vanishing Arts," to air in 1997.
When Olive Purcell first gave me directions to her summer cow camp, she told me to turn right at the "big pine tree." Needless to say, there are a lot of pine trees in the Payette National Forest, where she was camped!
But that's how "Ollie," as she's known, sees the world. To her, one tree looks a lot different from another, and she's a keen observer of even small changes in the natural environment around her.
I did finally make it up to the camp, but only after following her from town. During that day, I helped her put up her summer mailbox on the highway, watched her load a bull into a trailer and stroked a dying calf. It had been hit by a car and was bleeding internally. I think Olive probably wanted to kill it right then and put it out of its pain. But she waited until I left.
Animals are Olive's constant companions. She's not always easy on them--she works them hard and lets them know when she's displeased. But there's a reason she's been in charge of 900 head of cattle for 25 years. I talked to several of the older ranchers in the area and they were unequivocal in their admiration for her abilities. She gets the job done and gets it done well.
I had heard that Olive might not want to be interviewed. Actually, she's a lovely person, almost shy. She adores her kittens and likes nothing more than to play with them and deal a few games of solitaire before retiring for the evening.
As for really retiring, that's doubtful. There will always be something for Olive Purcell to do on the ranch. She'll be turning right at that big pine tree for many more years.
You had better be in good shape to keep up with the Great Old Broads. I'm not, but luckily we had to keep stopping them to get good video shots. That gave me a chance to breathe.
If you have to ask what a Great Old Broad is, you're not one. That's according to Susan Tixier, the group's founder. Susan started the GOBs kind of haphazardly, after seeing some older women hiking in the Sawtooths. She felt that some Congresspeople were denigrating senior citizens by suggesting that they couldn't access the wilderness.
In just a few years, the group has grown to several thousand. It meets every year in a different western location to take hikes and learn about the area. Then the members lobby Congress to protect the area. In the meantime, the women make friends from around the country.
There are loose requirements to join; most of the members are over 45 and most are women. But young folks and men are welcome as long as they share the philosophy of the group, which is to preserve and lobby for more wilderness.
I met some lovely people on the trip we took with the GOBs into the Boulder White Clouds. They are full of life and love and are always willing for a challenge. Indeed, we had to cut our shoot short because of a thunderstorm. But several in the group kept on going, despite lightning. Eventually they turned around, but they weren't going to give up easily!
The address for more information about the Great Old Broads is:
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
PO Box 355
Boulder, CO 80306
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