It's snowing at Stevens Pass. As the snow level drops down the mountain, Wellington once again becomes inaccessible to all but the hardiest of people willing to brave the cold and several feet of snow. Since I'm a wimp when it comes to cold, I can't drive in the snow, and I don't own a snow mobile, this means Wellington is inaccessible to me.
I'm okay with that this year.
Usually when summer draws to a close and the first snowfall dusts Wellington, I feel a sense of loss. It's difficult to wait several months to be able to return to my friends at Wellington. In the winters they call to me, and I can feel them pulling, asking me to come up again.
This year is different. As snow blankets this beautiful place I am completely at peace. I can only guess I am at peace because they are, as well.
Since I started in 2009, the spirits at Wellington have been persistent. They had a few things they wanted before they felt they could rest.
First, they wanted their story told. I am not alone in sharing the tale of Wellington. Many others have done a wonderful job of sharing the story of the avalanche, its victims, and the ghosts there. All who have visited and gone on to tell their tale to even one other person helped assist the spirits in their mission to be remembered. They are very grateful, and so am I. I hope that all of you who have been touched by the Wellington story continue to share it with anyone who will listen. Every time you do so, it honors those who died, as well as the men who fought to save them.
The second thing the spirits kept requesting was a memorial. They wanted their names in writing posted where they died. It is incredible to me that the names were never posted there before, but they weren't. Instead, trail signs gave snippets of information about the tragedy without naming names.
This fall, two wonderful donors created and installed the memorials the Wellington spirits wanted. When we dedicated the memorials in late October (one of Wellington's last sunny, snow-free days of the season), I felt the overwhelming gratitude, joy, relief, and peace of the spirits as they finally received what they so desired. Others who were with me felt that, as well. So strong and poignant were their feelings, it nearly brought me to my knees.
Now, the spirits have what they sought. Their story is on the lips of many. Their names are on a sign for all to see as they pass through the snow shed. Perhaps it is no coincidence that, once these needs were satisfied, the spirits at Wellington stopped pulling at me. It is time for them to rest, and I pray that is what they are doing.
The second connection I felt to Wellington was very personal. It was my search for Nellie Sharp - the young woman who died in the avalanche for whom I felt such affinity. Now that my friend Elaine found Nellie, my desire to know her better is satisfied. I believe I understand why I was drawn to Nellie. I have one last task to complete with regards to Nellie Sharp, but it is a deeply personal one that I choose not to share with anyone but those to whom I am the closest. It will be complete before Wellington thaws once again in early summer.
Even though I have yet to accomplish that task, I feel a sense of completion. I believe I did what I came to do at Wellington. I have reached the end of a five year journey. While I will continue to tell the story and visit a place that has become sacred to me, the relationship has shifted. I finally feel I am ready to move forward to new projects. What those projects are, I have no idea. I'm sure that the universe will deliver them when the time is right, just as it did with Wellington.
Many who experience Wellington have voiced similar thoughts to me. Just like me, they sensed 2013 was a year of winding down at Wellington. Several have expressed that they, too, feel a deep sense of closure and peace. I can only hope what they express is a reflection of what the spirits feel. It has been more than 100 years, and they deserve peace. They deserve to return Home.
I can't say for sure that no spirits remain at Wellington. Perhaps they will stay because they love it. Maybe they've returned Home. Maybe they'll come back to visit from time to time.
All I know for certain is what I feel. I am profoundly grateful for the experiences I've had at Wellington, and I'm humbled at the opportunities I received to grow as a soul because of my time spent there. For those souls - both living and dead - who have participated in that journey in any way at all, I offer you my deepest thanks. You have become my family, and you all own a piece of my heart.
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