Rest in peace, Zach Konowalchuk

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Day 13: Humbug Mountain to Crescent City, 78 miles

Oh Specter, why did you visit again and steal away my friend?  How am I to comprehend this loss, a treasured soul so pure and shining?  I am stunned to hear the words of a friend, just before I crossed the Thomas Creek bridge.

“Zach died.” I have no response at first. She is crying on the phone, barely able to speak the words.  I am shocked, speechless, as if someone had struck a blow to my forehead.

I ride on.  At first, thought maybe I should stop my trip, but I know Zach would say, “Ocean, keep riding!”

I push on, racing to reach Brookings then Crescent City before sunset. I stop to tell Intaba on the phone, to talk with Janelle.  How do I keep going?

Crying, screaming at the hills, remembering Zach’s beauty, genuine nature, always brightening the day.  Hugging everyone.

Earlier I passed the spot where the women cyclists were struck last fall, police paint still marking the shoulder.  I wonder if the critical one died.  I wonder at death, fear it deeply.

Facebook shows how much love Zach had shared.  His wall if filled with remembrances, a memorial.  I message friends. How do I keep going?

“Hammer it!” Zach would say, a Canadian phrase.  I ride on, pumping hard as I roll south, south, away from this great loss, further into my emptiness.

The last time I sat with Zach, we talked of music and making a living.  I pressed him to market to the folk music scene, to send out his CDs.  He agreed, but then said, “I’d have to be proud of what was on the CDs.” He said they didn’t represent his music now.

Critical of himself, yet always generous and supportive of others.  Such a genuine, honest man.  Someone I will strive to emulate, to carry his spirit forth.  To honor how deeply he touched my heart.  The well of sorrow will flow for a long time.

My last videos of Zach, in his element, busking on the bayfront in Newport:

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