It just felt right to sleep under the stars -- it was how Aaron would have wanted it. Never a man for excessive planning, he had a faith in the universe. Things like a bed, a meal and a definitive plan were secondary to the experience. Just "smash life," as he would say.
We were bound for the Robinson family home in Columbia Falls, Mont., for a carnival to celebrate pro snowboarder Aaron Robinson's life. Aaron's mother, Pam, planned the carnival to bring together the many friends he made in his quarter-century on this earth. She had advertised around town and a few local media outlets had picked up news of the party. Beyond a celebration, Pam intended to raise money to fulfill Aaron's dream of starting a nonprofit to help underprivileged youth live out their snowboard dreams. Thus, the A-Rob Plant A Seed Foundation was born.
This is how we found ourselves splayed out under the stars, dreaming of grizzlies in West Glacier, Mont., in a camping spot of dubious legitimacy, gazing into the night sky and preparing for the carnival. I traveled out with a few friends from western Washington -- Liam Gallagher, Forrest Burki and Temple Cummins -- and we were joined by a Montana-based contingent of Jeff Hawe, Shane Stalling, Meg Haywood-Sullivan, Reid Morth and Jeremiah Favarah. With people trickling in from throughout the Northwest and beyond, making their own migrations much as Aaron chased his dreams to wherever the snow was flying, the trip itself was as much a celebration of Aaron as the carnival was. Two days on the road turned into a Saturday morning fly-fishing session on the Flathead River which then led to Columbia Falls, where the Robinsons had invited over 600 of their closest friends to join in remembering Aaron.
There at the Robinsons' home, summer shone into late September and revelers young and old took part in the festivities -- homemade hats courtesy of Volcom, one of Aaron's sponsors, temporary tattoos, a slip-and-slide and a stage drew the crowd together, while children young and old played in the garden. Out in the field, the party began early and didn't let up until the sun rose Sunday morning. With friends and relatives arriving all the way from Bend, Ore. to Burlington, Vt., it truly was a gathering of a tight-knit snowboard community all inspired by the same individual -- a person who spread positive energy and love for life to all he encountered along his journey.
Late in the night we gathered in front of the stage to watch footage of Aaron smashing his way through the mountains of interior B.C. with filmer Jake Price and rider Curtis Ciszek. Price created a 15-minute edit that mixed storm riding with behind-the-scenes footage and captured Aaron's spirit: forever stoked and thankful to be in the mountains. Afterward, a procession of bands and performers came on stage and kept the party rolling for Aaron; for his parents, Pamela and Jeff; brothers Sean and Jason; and for all of Aaron's friends and relatives the world over, even those who couldn't be there.
As we left from the Whitefish skatepark Sunday evening for the 11-hour drive home, it began to rain -- rain that will soon turn to snow in the mountains. Aaron will be there with us when we drop in for our first turns this year, and for every turn thereafter. A huge thanks goes to Pam and the Robinsons for bringing everyone together to celebrate Aaron's life. Our love runs deep, and he will live on in our hearts forever.