I can’t write an announcement about the Missions map without talking about our dear friend Kyra Jean Wiliams. Last spring when we first pulled the whole map together Kyra was probably the only person more excited about it than me. She was living in Saint Ignatius at the base of the Mission Range and spent much of her free time exploring the mountains out her back door. She called or stopped by almost every weekend to check on the progress of the map or to look at our draft to plan her weekend outing. As some of you may know Kyra passed away in a car accident last August. This map is dedicated to her and to the spirit of adventure and the willingness to forge her own path that she embodied.
Kyra and I went to college together in Maine and we both ended up in Missoula after we graduated. Kyra was one of those people I always wanted to see more of. She was so vibrant and such a kind and colorful spirit. So grounded and so at peace with who she was and what she knew to be important in life. Unlike most of my female friends we didn’t spend a lot of time talking about relationship drama or life in a broad metaphorical terms. We talked about business plans and ways to create fulfilling careers doing what we loved in a way that we could avoid burning out. We talked about our Bates peers who were living in bigger cities following more traditional paths and how we felt drawn to this mountain town where you can touch the wilderness with one hand and gourmet coffee with the other. We both fell in love with Missoula because the culture here encourages a certain kind of dreaming- about how life doesn’t have to be either a successful career climbing the ladder or full of adventure; it’s possible to have both at the same time. It was always such a comfort to talk with someone who came from the same background and could appreciate differences between Missoula and Bates from the same perspective as me. I miss her dearly and I continue to be inspired by her passion for living life to the fullest.