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Walt Blackadar's grave site | by oldmantravels
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Walt Blackadar's grave site

Walt Blackadar was a brash pioneer kayaker. He was a medical doctor who lived in Idaho to be in the outdoors which he loved. He died not far from where he is buried in a kayaking accident on the South Fork of the Payette River. He was the last person allowed to be buried in the Garden Valley, Idaho cemetery, which overlooks a peaceful stretch of the South Fork of the Payette River.


I have four white water heroes: Glen & Bessie Hyde [Read “Sunk Without a Sound” by Brad Dimock]; Walt Blackadar, who I wouldn’t have liked personally - but admire what he accomplished on rivers in a kayak [Read “Never Turn Back” by Ron Watters]; and Buzz Holmstrom, who I would have liked personally [Read “The Doing of the Thing” by Welch, Conley, & Dimock].


Walt Blackadar, a medical doctor/adventurer - - lost his life in a kayak below Big Falls on the South Payette River. He was the last person allowed to be buried in the Pioneer cemetery overlooking the picturesque Garden Valley, Idaho. There is no road to the cemetery there, so once in the past, while traveling the road with my wife, I had received permission to climb the gate and hike up to the cemetery to take photos. I found Walt’s grave, marked by a bronze plaque on a rugged local boulder. His wife, who died later, was not allowed to be buried in the cemetery, so her ashes were scattered there and a plaque for her affixed to the boulder, under Walt’s.


I found the pioneer cemetery at Garden Valley fascinating. Like many old west cemeteries, you could look at the names, epithets and dates of birth and death, and learn much. Well, one day I decided to open some of my old photos of Walt Blackadar’s grave stone and read what the plaque said. Only problem was, that I couldn’t read what it said on any of my earlier photos. So, on this trip, I planned to stop, ask permission, and hopefully revisit the cemetery and photograph Walt Blackadar’s plaque, just to satisfy my curiosity.


The land around the cemetery is for sale with a freshly painted sign in the pasture and the sign on the gate seemed to have added “no trespassing” to the “private property” sign, so I wasn’t sure if I would get permission this time.


I asked the lady working at the Garden Valley gas station if there was anybody I could ask for permission to visit the cemetery. She walked outside, looked across the road, and said “Yip, he is home. John Tucker is who you need to see and I see his car over by that cabin across the street. Talk to John”.


I saw a sign that said “John and Pilar Tucker” right above the doorbell on the large cabin like home. When I rang it John came to the door and appeared to be about my age. We soon struck up a long “small town” friendly discussion and he asked if I would like him to unlock the pasture gate so I could take my four wheel drive pickup to the cemetery. I told him I preferred to park at the gate and if it was O.K., to climb into the pasture and walk up the hill to the cemetery. He allowed as how he was the “custodian” and didn’t actually own the land, but permission granted.


Then he asked me if I had ever been to Placerville, which I hadn’t. I had told him where I was going and he told me that I could travel a dirt road up to Placerville, Idaho (11 miles up a dirt road), then head down another road to Idaho City, then head up to Lowman, then continue on to Iron Creek camp near Stanley. When he told me that Placerville was an old mining town full of history and a pioneer cemetery with some of his relatives buried there, I was mighty tempted.


I shook hands with John and thanked him for his kind assistance. I told him if I didn’t make it to Placerville on this trip, I would do so. Promise. Then I made my way up to the Garden Valley pioneer cemetery and photographed Walt Blackadar’s gravesite again AND took a photo of his epithet that I was sure to be able to read. When you poke around in history, you are sure to find answers to you questions but invariable when you find an answer you find many more questions. It can drive a curious person to distraction.


So here is what Walt Blackadar M.D.’s epithet read:


“It is when you give of yourself that you truly give” K. Gibran.


Never heard of K. Gibran, so when I got home, internet digging I went. Kahlil Gibran, was a most interesting individual and I started reading his quotes. I found two that appealed to me:


1. “Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need” (Sounded like a quote from Jack London about charity and feeding a dog).


2. “Yesterday is but today’s memory, tomorrow is today’s dream” (Oh, I like that one).


You get the picture. Take care of one detail and turn over a rock with lots of other curiosities, underneath.


For the entire road trip and hike story read the narrative that is included with the Sawtooth Trip Sept 2009 photo set.


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Taken on August 31, 2009