ASHLAND, Ore. --The Mt. Ashland Ski Area was packed on President’s Day, with the parking lot filled all the way to the back. Skiers said it was one of the most beautiful days in Mt. Ashland’s history.
The sun was shining bright, along with the smiles of the staff. But the positivity they displayed might not have been expected after the sudden passing of Mt. Ashland Ski Patroller Johnny Walker on Saturday.
The regular skiers and snowboarders noticed the staff was as friendly as ever.
"And everybody as usual is real cordial and having a good time, and everybody's really polite to each other. Yeah, it's been great," said Sean Burke, a Medford Resident and longtime Mt. Ashland skier.
Staff members said that it was the best way to remember Walker — to do what he loved to do. They mentioned that he was always nice, and loved to be on the mountain.
Even the children on the mountain, who are normally at school on a Monday, noticed how supportive the staff was being. Young snowboarder Tyler Hampson recalled a snowboarding lesson she had with the staff.
"I took a snowboarding lesson and everyone was so nice, and they tried to help me as best they could and they were just so helpful, and thoughtful. It was really, really nice," Hampson said.
Other kids talked about the family atmosphere going around the mountain.
"I like to spend time with my family. Especially my sister because she really helps me. Like if I fall then she helps me get up and it's kind of like a flower. With one drop of water it grows," said skier Raegan Burke.
One of the regular skiers mentioned that this kind of attitude and action was the best way to move on after a tragedy like the loss of someone like Walker — someone that the staff of Mt. Ashland thought of as a member of the family.