“Heart Broken” for Teacher Who Died in Sierra Nevada Hiking Accident

01-hadley hiker killed teacherValencia High School Teacher Pat Hadley died on Thursday while hiking in the Sequoia National Forest

Friends mourned on Saturday the loss of a longtime Southern California high school teacher and running coach who died after falling 150 feet off a mountain ridge in the Sierra Nevada.

Pat Hadley died on Thursday in a fall on a rugged hillside in the Inyo National Forest, coroner’s officials said.

Tributes began to spring up online for the popular teacher who students called “Coach Hadley.”

“She is the mold that God made for teachers to follow,” wrote “Rose” in an online tribute page. “My heart is broken by Coach Hadley’s passing.”

Jim Bell, the principal at Valencia High School in Placentia, touted her accomplishments on the track and in the classroom in a statement posted on the school’s website.

“Pat tragically lost her life doing what she loved,” he said. “She will be missed and we ask you for your thoughts and prayers for her family.”

Hadley died while taking part in a series of day hikes on California mountain trails with about 20 others when she disappeared about 2 p.m. Thursday, said Jeff Mullenhour, a deputy coroner’s investigator in Inyo County.

Her body was found about two hours later. It was an accident, Mullenhour said. An autopsy set for Sunday would determine how she died.

The hiking community set up an online tribute for Hadley on Friday.

She was climbing alone on a ridge in Baxter Pass on Day 7 of the 10-day “Sierra Challenge,” a series of day-hikes to 10 peaks, wrote Bob Burd, a moderator on the site summitpost.org.

Fellow hikers found her lifeless body about 150 feet below the ridge, Burd wrote.

”All of us are devastated by this tragic loss,” wrote Burd, adding that the rest of the Challenge was canceled out of respect for Hadley’s family. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to her husband, family and a wide community of friends that will undoubtedly be greatly affected.”

The Wisconsin native taught ceramics and coached the boys cross country and boys and girls track teams in her nearly 20-year career at Valencia.

Hadley’s storied athletic career included national titles in mountain biking and a stint in the first unofficial female World Cup Soccer tournament, Bell said.

“Now cracks a noble heart,” wrote “MoapaPk” in the online tribute, referring to a line in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” “Good night sweet princess: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

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The World Ends (Again)

Pretty sunset

Sunrise by Marybeth Haydon

I forgot that the world was supposed to end today. Again.

What is it that some folks are preoccupied with knowing the Mind of God? Are we so arrogant that we actually think that we can predict something that the Word of God states in Matthew 24:35, 36 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”

 Sure, any day, any hour holds the possibility that it could be the last for any one of us, no one is guaranteed a tomorrow. Stuff happens. Really bad stuff happens. But even these individual circumstances cannot be predicted.

There was a time that I would have welcomed “the end” with open arms; oh please DO, end this madness! But as I’ve matured, as I’ve twice survived deadly disease, have survived life threatening circumstances (four of them to be exact, there really should be a limit!), and have survived MYSELF in my younger years, I’m continuing to learn that there is a bigger picture. There are people who count on me. There are others that I’ve yet to meet, to share “my story” with.

One particular hike that I was on, I was off to the side of the trail, looking down at the stream below eager to catch a glympse of a bear, deer or bobcat getting a drink. A young woman was heading up the path and stopped beside me and started a relaxed conversation. I don’t even remember how the subject came up, but we discovered that she was recovering from a bilateral mastectomy, just as I was. The conversation blossomed as we continued our journey up the mountain and a friendship was forged.

As we shared our relative experiences while on trail, I told her how I had accidentally STOOD on a coiled, and exceedingly angry rattle snake. No one can outrun the strike of a snake, no matter how much adrenalin is pumping into the bloodstream. But I came out of the life-threatening situation “merely” shaken to the core.  Through the active grace of God I came out of the situation unscathed. This could have been the end of the world for me; literally the end of me.

Needless to say, I had residual fear. That night, I had to turn on all the lights in order to use the ladies room, I was terrified of stepping on a phantom snake in my house. Weeks later, my fear did not recede and reduced my subsequent hikes to paths of sweaty shakes and terror. I went to my Lord, desperate to return to the wilderness with joy, wonder and discovery. He spoke to my spirit with very wise advise:

“Don’t focus on what you did, but on what I did.” 

I can’t express what FREEDOM that gave me! CLEARLY He intervened! Had He not, I’d be racking up 10’s of thousands of dollars in medical treatment for a snake bite. If I survived it, since I was initally bent over the thing, it could have struck me in the chest or face. (Full story in my book Wilderness Training the Novice).

When I told my new friend this, she said with awe, “Your God is very smart.” Smiling, I agreed with absolute confidence. Yes indeed. My God is very, very smart! I hope someday she will get to know “my God”. I also hope and pray the same for all who read this.

So, when you hear of rumors of “the end of the world”, take courage and confidence that it is untrue, for no man knows the day or hour. Not even when a crazy accident may happen on or off trail!

It’s a new day. ENJOY IT TO YOUR FULLEST!!

03-01-12 Evey Cyn Potato Mtn 012

Overlooking the City by Marybeth Haydon