Gary Edinger from Kennan is an unusual man. I have never met anyone like him, and I doubt that I will ever meet another like him. To know him makes life better!
Gary and I got to know each other while he was doing some aspen patch-cut logging for wildlife on our Nature Education Center lands several years ago before his accident. After a few meetings, it was apparent Gary wasn’t just any logger. He has a passion to work alone in the woods on his own terms, be his own boss, and support his family. I think it was a spiritual experience for him being alone in the woods with nature whether he realized it or not.
Gary is a good listener despite his somewhat stubborn independence. We learned from each other through long conversations about what was good for the land and wildlife and the impact, both good and bad, logging might have on them. He was patient with me as I marked out ‘leave’ trees for wildlife and islands of habitat that I wanted left for certain species of animals. To show how much he cared about what I cared about, one time while logging our land he found a ruffed grouse nest full of eggs at the base of an aspen tree. He came to me and said that he was going to leave the nest tree and the area around it until the grouse eggs hatched. He told the logger helping him to do the same. That is the kind of man he is. After all, one reason for logging the aspen was to increase favorable regenerating aspen habitat for grouse and other wildlife, so we all wanted the hatchlings to survive the logging operation. He did several small aspen patch-cuts for us which achieved the desired effect to increase wildlife habitat for species that depend upon young aspen stands to live and thrive. When skidding out the trees, he was as careful as he could be not to damage the remaining trees, so they would remain healthy.
Unfortunately, Gary had a serious logging accident on a very cold, subzero day on Feb. 15, 2007 in Price County that almost cost him his life — it did cost him a leg. Gary wrote a book about that fateful day and what followed called Will to Live: A Saga of Survival published by Stoneydale Press Publishing Co. It is a ‘must read’ book because it is more than just about how Gary survived losing a leg and eventually returning to the logging work he loves. It is also about how his previous life experiences prepared him for the Will to Live after being so close to death. His Saga of Survival and how he handled it, outlined in his inspirational, heart-warming, well-written book, could help all of us faced with tragedies in our lives.
Gary’s good news story at a time when most news seems to be so bad is so important that a 17-minute video, sponsored by Danner Boots and Filson, was just released documenting his survival story. You won’t want to miss this one, but you may want to grab some tissues before watching it! It can be seen free on YouTube at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79sVMMesYxk