It’s not every day that a 75 year old man decides he’s going to be a Longrider for Wild Pink Yonder. And it’s not every day that he does it for two years in a row. But that’s what Hugh Ashwell of Edson did, and, being a gung-ho kind of guy, he didn’t just raise the minimum each year. When you add his two years’ worth of fundraising together, he was (and still is) the highest fundraising Pinkster in the land.
It was Hugh’s intention to ride a third year, but sadly, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (aka “ALS” … amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) struck. It was a particularly fast acting type and our Hugh went from vibrant (in the photo below) to unable to talk … to drive his truck … to ride his horse, Keno. And it all happened overnight. It was heartbreaking.
Hugh passed last November and I promised myself that we’d have a Hugh Ashwell Memorial “something” before the 2017 tour ended.
What better place than at Entrance Ranch, at the gateway to Hugh’s beloved mountains? And so it was.
His widow and a number of other family members came out that day. They had lunch with us and then Hugh’s son, Darcy, saddled his horse. And then he saddled Hugh’s horse, Keno. And finally, he put Hugh’s boots backwards in Keno’s stirrups and his hat that you see in the photo above, on the saddle horn. (Hugh lived in that hat.) And with that, our riders were off for their afternoon ride. Darcy ponied Hugh’s horse for the entire ride.
When the afternoon ride ended, we all had dinner together and talked about Hugh. Someone spoke about his willingness to feed and water horses on the trail. Someone else spoke to the fact that he loved dancing, but couldn’t keep the beat. The twinkle in his eye. His horsemanship. His devotion to our cause. His love of the mountains. It was a lovely evening. When we’d all spoken our pieces, I uncovered a canvas of the photo above and presented it to Hugh’s widow, Barb.
It was a peaceful evening, the kind Hugh enjoyed most. Ride on, cowboy. You were a great friend. You are missed.