Roger George Brown
10 September 1951 – 9 November 2016
It is with great sadness that I write this piece for you all. My father Roger passed away from cancer a few days ago. To be honest I am not sure how much people knew of his illness. I know in typical dad style he tried to play down how sick he was even to me, when I was standing right in front of him. I guess this was the last gift he wanted to give us – hope.
Dad loved this website, and he loved the community here. It was his little space in the world where he shared his love of the outdoors. Before he died, he pestered me (uncomfortably so) to promise to take care of it for him. So here I am.
My first consecutive day hike with dad (I think) was when I was 5. He took my brother and I to climb Mt Kosciusko during the summer holidays. Being the highest mountain in Australia it’s probably not the most obvious choice to introduce a 5 year old to hiking. But that was dad. When I complained about having to go uphill, he told me there was a cafe up top. To this day, I have never climbed a mountain with a cafe on top of it…
Leading up to this trip I remember telling dad that I thought it was amazing that Santa knew I needed a pack for my upcoming trip. This is probably my first memory of my dads enthusiasm to buy me outdoor gear. From that moment on, if it was hiking related I was (mostly) allowed to have it.
The good gear times really started to roll, once my brother and I were old enough to use his old gear, enabling him to buy new stuff. His passion for geeking out on hiking gear was always there. In the early days I think we got the gear reviews while on trips with him. Interestingly, he was also the one who taught me the saying ‘all the gear, no idea’.
I have spent my life following his hiking boots. Which I note have gotten lighter over the years due to his love of lightweight hiking gear. In his final days, he was still determined to get up and go walking. Everyday, he would ask me to take him for a short walk. Everyday, as every other day before us, we went outside and put one foot in front of the other.
In July I came over from Australia to spend 6 weeks with him while he was going through chemo. During that time, we would go for daily meanders through the woods and we did one overnight hike which he documented here. I was fortunate enough to be able to support him on this trip. The sun was glorious and dad was in his element. This trip was about 8km over 2 days, a far cry from the 20-30km days he had brought me up with. We joked that we were serious thru hikers now. It was good to see him joking again. During this hike I got to witness his sheer happiness by being back in the outdoors. With everything that had been going on with his health, it was clear how the outdoors recalibrated him. He was happier, calmer and freer.
Dad always told me he wanted to be hiking till he was 100. I know he is now in a place where he can hike for eternity, sit in his camping chair and watch the world go by. Totally at peace.
I will meet you in the woods Dad, we can go for a hike some time.
Love Kylie x