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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 26, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 04
IN MEMORIAM - JON POLLACK
Section One
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IN MEMORIAM - JON POLLACK

My friend Jon Pollack

by Janice Van Cleve - SGN Contributing Writer

Jon Pollack loved the arts. He loved opera, he loved musicals, and he sang in the Seattle Men's Chorus. Most of all, however, Jon seemed to be happiest with a pack on his back and boots on his feet. He thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors, hiking and camping. He was a gentle and caring trip leader who always carried extra supplies for first aid, blisters, and even food. Jon loved life and lived it eagerly. He was born on October 12, 1956. He died on January 13, 2018.

I first met Jon at an OutVentures potluck back in 2001. OutVentures is a Gay and Lesbian outdoors adventure group that grew out of Ski Buddies. Jon was organizing a back packing trip to the Hoh River in the Olympic Mountains and I decided it would be a fun experience. We hiked in 9.5 miles to Jon's 'secret' special camping spot down by the river. Jon was a master of Olympic hiking trails and he knew all the perfect spots for camping. Later that year he organized a camping trip to Shi Shi Beach on the Pacific Coast. It was pouring down rain when we got there, but the weather never dampened Jon's spirits. He was always full of enthusiasm, optimism, and encouragement.

Jon and I became friends and enjoyed many hiking and camping adventures together. There was the 11-mile traverse of Rattlesnake Ridge and the Tenerife/Mt. Si loop in the winter on snowshoes. We did the 13-mile traverse from the Granite Mountain/Pratt Lake trailhead all the way over Malakwa and down Denny Creek. We camped at Monte Cristo and explored the remains of the old mining town, basked in the beauty of Gothic Basin, and hiked to Twin Lakes. We struggled through the snow up Pilchuck and around Heather Lake. We camped at Norwegian Memorial Beach where Jon forgot his stove fuel and I had to cook our dinner over the campfire.

Jon's famous enthusiasm was on full display for the Yakima Rim trip in 2008. Our group crossed the open range, up a gully, and onward over ridge after ridge. Jon kept encouraging us with 'it's just around the corner' and 'we're almost there!' Of course, our destination was still a long ways off, but his optimism kept us going. On another winter hike up to Surprise Lake by Stevens Pass, Jon coined another phrase while I was boot kicking my way up a snow chute: 'Janice, this is beyond my comfort zone.'

Sometimes things didn't turn out as we planned. Road conditions, weather, or fatigue just spelled against an adventure. No matter. Jon was perfectly happy to relax on the drive, engage in conversation, and enjoy the company. We explored east of the Cascades as well, including Manastash Ridge, Lake Ingalls, and Ancient Lakes. We hiked together or with others and Jon led many many expeditions besides the ones he did with me. He was a Mountain Man through and through.

In 2011 Jon fell out of work and for two years he had trouble holding onto a job. He was smart and capable, and certainly personable, but just down on his luck. In 2013 he had to move out of his Queen Anne Hill condo, and his friends and I helped him pack. He took up residence south, I think it was Anderson Island, and I did not hear from him for a while.

Then in 2014 he scored an apartment and a job in Tacoma and he was his old self again. We hiked the Rampart Loop on Mt. Rainier and camped and hiked in the Teanaways. The next three years I heard little from him nor did we get together for hikes. Last year I sent him a birthday card and he was very pleased. He sent me an email to thank me, yet he made no mention of health issues.

On January 21, a mutual friend emailed me to let me know Jon had died the week before. I was stunned by the news. It took me a couple of days to gather my wits and I combed through my journal to list the hikes and adventures we had shared. Tomorrow is a memorial for him.

Death is the punctuation at the end of our sentence. I think the purpose of life is to stuff as many verbs into that sentence as we can before the punctuation. Jon Pollack stuffed more verbs in his sentence than most. His eyes have seen beauty many of us only see on calendars. His feet have trod more miles than some of us have driven. His enthusiasm brought bountiful joy to all around him.

Rest in peace, Jon.

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