S: THE DARK HORSE
1: Mark Hentze Mild and Mellow in Nature... Bold in Action! He had a passion for everything he pursued and delivered it in a quiet and calm manner. Whether it was Smokejumping, kayaking, gardening, fire dancing, exploring Colombia or fighting for what he believed, Mark went all the way with skill and purpose. He was intelligent, kind and genuine. He will be known for his numerous incredible videos and countless photos, but remembered by stories of experiences that we will never forget. I have a huge amount of respect for Mark and I will always appreciate the contribution he has made to my life. His friendship over the last 12 years will be missed..... Dirk Stevens... Co-worker...Redmond SJ
2: SOCKS In 2002, my snookie year, Mark, myself and two others went on a spring climbing trip to Manhattan. We were split into two teams of two and sent out on patrol for quality control. It was great getting to know Mark so well and it was so damn fun traveling the city by foot, train and GPS. | Jon Hernandez and Mark Hentze, The Steens Mountain '07
3: It was on this trip that Mark and I discovered that we could never agree on one issue.... our feet! He showed up in New York with one pair of white socks because he had forgotten the new pack of socks in Oregon. "No worries" he told me, "It's only a month." I freaked out... I always carried three pairs on every fire I jumped. For the first week everyday I would ask him if it bothered him. Nope, it never did. I lasted eight days with him wearing those socks then I had a breakdown and went to the store and bought him a twelve pack of plain white socks as a gift. When I quit jumping I left him all my old dirty socks in his locker as a joke. About a month ago I was going through some old boxes in my storeroom and found the last three pairs of wool socks I had. Laughing, I made a mental note that I was going to send them to Mark for refresher this year. It's funny how something as simple as a pair of socks can evoke such strong memories about a person and right now I'd love to see him show up at my house in some old dirty socks. Jon Hernandez
5: CRYSTAL RAPID This was the aftermath of Crystal Rapid on the 2010 Grand Canyon trip. Mark's cataraft, captained by Jason Barber with Mat Mendonca as cargo had plunged straight into the biggest hole in Crystal. After completing a spectacular back-flip, that dislodged its occupants, the raft continued downstream upside down. Luckily Jason and Mat were pulled from the waters unharmed. The cat eventually hung up on a rocky island. It was a more bold strewn sandbar with substantial current flowing over and through it. Our task of retrieving the raft would not be an easy one... Ben Bell, Mark Hentze and Bjorn Skovlin
6: We only had two kayaks that could access the island, so Mark and Kees went over. They worked with ropes and pulleys to try to right the boat, but it was difficult on the slippery rocks in strong current. Finally they decided they would have to wait until the next day. By this time, it was dark, and we had no choice but to make camp in rather inhospitable rocks. Mark and his clothes were soaked from his salvage efforts. The cold night air made this an uncomfortable situation. Luckily, Kees had a pair of full length flannel pajamas. They were an adult-sized version of a little kid's Uni, complete with slippers and teddy bears sleeping in the moon. Kees had them custom made in Bogota or Medellin. Such rare and magical things are possible in Colombia. Naturally, Mark chose these to get him through a rough night in good spirits. The next day, Mark was able to shuttle three or four other people over to the island with him. On his own accord, Elton took the risk of swimming out to the stranded ship. This resulted in some tense moments as he was unable to reach the sandbar, but thankfully arrived back on shore intact. Once on the island, Mark engineered an ingenious z-drag pulley system. After much effort, the wayward boat was flipped back onto its feet and securely docked on the mainland. The Cat and crew would finish the trip slightly bruised and battered but happy. Ben Bell, RAC 2007
8: I am an Alaska Smokejumper, but I did not know Mark previously and I had not been on a fire with him or met him in the fire world yet. My girlfriend, Adinda and I met Mark in Pucon, Chile in 2004. It's a funny story because our chance meeting is an example of Mark's adventurous lifestyle. We were buying some kayaks at a shop in Pucon the day after we arrived. We were going to be in the area, paddling the local rivers for about a month. We were bargaining for our kayaks and gear and noticed a guy hanging out trying to find some people to paddle with. We introduced ourselves and started talking. "So where are you from? What do you do? You're a Redmond Smokejumper Haha! Thats great, I'm an Alaska Smokejumper. Lets hit the river!" Mark is an awesome person as well as a super good kayaker. We on the other hand, were not super good kayakers, but decent. We ended up paddling with Mark for the next three weeks. He had patience and helped hone our kayaking skills. We ended up driving together down to Futaleufu, Chile and paddling there for about a week, following the two weeks in Pucon. We parted ways in Bariloche, and dropped him off on our way North. We paddled some amazing rivers with Mark and had a great time in his company. I never had a chance to be on a fire with Mark, but we hung out on Alaska boosts.
9: We will continue to celebrate his life by doing activities in the ourdoors of this planet that engender us to be healthy, productive human beings and to share those adventures with others... just as Mark would have done. Gabriel Lydic | Mark in his element playing on a wave in the Rio Liucura | We will continue to celebrate his life by doing activities in the outdoors of this planet that engender us to be healthy, productive human beings and to share those adventures with others... just as Mark would have done. Gabe Lydic
10: IMPRESSIONS OF HENTZE Mark was a wonderful guy and a special person. I always admired and appreciated his unique perspectives and strong sense of individuality. In 2003, we worked together as detailers as part of the Silver City Smokejumper crew. Working as a Gila jumper is always a coveted spot in the world of jumper assignments. There is something about the hot, dry desert, high elevation and Gila jump country that creates a sense of adventure. Hentze seemed pretty happy that summer; glad to be on the road, glad to be in Silver City and glad to be
11: jumping fires. We jumped a fire in the Aldo Leopold Wilderness in the Black Range. When we jumped, it was late afternoon and windy. The jumpers that made it to the ground came in fast, and in typical Black Range fashion, hit hard. The Fire was up the ridge from the jump spot and far enough of a hump that we had the cargo dropped near the fire. By the time we hiked to our gear it was covered in fire retardant, as was one of the bros. Mark and I had a pretty good time laughing at him. The next morning we hiked back to the jump spot to recover chutes left in trees. I vaguely remember taking this picture of Mark climbing a small P-Pine. What sticks in my memory more, was another tree Mark found. On the hike to the jump spot I came upon Hentze perched atop an Alligator Juniper, in a bowl of gnarly branches, about 20 feet off the ground. He had found himself a good spot; you didn't know he was there until you were right under him. When he called out to me he was pretty pleased with himself. I had to laugh. These moments of shared ridiculousness and humor despite the jobs' many pressures, are what made jumping worth it - and I'm glad I was able to share
12: in plenty of Hentze's stunts. I feel lucky I was able to work with him when I did. Many of us jumper gals agree Mark is a favorite "bro." Mark looked out for us gals, he wasn't ever protective or paternalistic, just accepting. I always appreciated that about him. Mark was a great jumper, but he was always honest about his true passion - kayaking - and that he jumped to financially support his habit. Even though jumping was only one half of Mark's life, he was a really important part of the Redmond Smokejumper Base, and to the entire jump community. He is admired and loved by many, and he will be missed. Sincerely, Sarah Altemus, MSO 01
13: Ralph Sweeny, Sean Wishart, Brandon Colville and Mark Hentze | Climbing trees for the Asian Longhorned beetle in Worcester Massachusetts
14: Memories of Mark Hentze We all know that Mark was a very unique person, one that is sort of difficult to describe because of his quiet, reserved demeanor. He probably wouldn't want me to describe him anyway. He definitely had personality, but being the quiet and calm guy he was he could hide it when he wanted to. It was usually hidden when he was thinking, and thinking, he did a lot. Mark would give those around him a yearning to learn more and to know what is right. He motivated me to read more books, write stories, work on my grammar, row a boat through the Grand Canyon, fight a fire, know my rights at work, etc. Mark usually had a different way of attacking a fire then most fire folks. His way was always just as effective, better for the land and easier on your body. You could always tell that he cared for the land. Mark wanted to protect it and he would let it be known if more harm was being done, then good. I was always amazed by how full he kept his plate, yet he would find time to read books on historical wildfires and documents on Forest Service policy. I was fortunate to jump a lot of fires with Mark. He helped me get my Incident Commander type 4 on a fire in Washington a few years back. He was a great trainer on that fire, as well as the many other fires we worked on together. Mark was wise, simple and a great guy to talk to about many topics
15: from hunting to electronics. I would always go to Mark before I purchased a computer or a camera to get his opinion of it. While on our spring 2009 Grand Canyon trip, I learned more about my camera then I cared to read about due to Mark. I got some great pictures of that trip. Mark allowed me to take his cataraft through the Grand Canyon while he kayaked it, handing out tips here and there, but mostly letting me learn on my own. I was sure glad to have him come to my rescue when I flipped the boat on Crystal, a large rapid on the Colorado. Mark and I had plans to get a river permit for the middle fork of the Salmon River in Idaho. I hope it is still something that I can accomplish before I lose the river knowledge that he gave me. He will be in my thoughts as I exit the jump plane, work on a wildfire or run a river. He was truly an amazing individual. He will be missed by many... but never forgotten. Jason Barber | Mark on Rio Guatape. Antioquia, Colombia
16: Rio Caqueta The first time I met Mark was in Colombia, January 2011. After every river trip Mark said... this is one of the best rivers in Colombia... or... this is a true Colombian classic. He just loved to be on the rivers exploring and it was just great to paddle with Mark. His fascination and love for the Colombian rivers, the country, exploring... The best kayaking trip was with Mark and David Kashinski in 2011. The three of us went to Mocoa, Putumayo, South of
17: Colombia. Mark wanted to explore this area for rivers. This was my first time in Colombia. Paddling the Rio Caqueta was the best experience ever. It was an exciting trip through a 50 km gorge. The FARC is active in this area and the locals warned us to avoid this gorge by night. WIth no exit possibilities, and no clue about water levels... we had no idea what to expect. Mark absolutely loves this kind of adventure, flirting with risks and the unknown. He is a real explorer. From the first day I met Mark, I enjoyed his friendly, warm, calm ways and his special sense of humor. After paddling the first big rapids we realized that we wouldn't make this trip in one day because we ended up scouting so many large rapids. We accepted that it would be an overnighter and took our time on the river, made pictures, enjoyed the rapids and the great scenery. What we experienced and saw was fascinating. Around 1600 we found a beach squeezed in between two big rapids and not accessible by jungle. We felt safe and made a fire. We had taken extra food but no overnight gear. We agreed this river was a great place to spend the night. At this moment I did not want to be with anyone else but Mark and David. The three of us had a great day together paddling this stunning gorge and experiencing enjoyable and exciting whitewater. We were not talking
19: much, just enjoying each others company. Mark was fiddling around with his camera, GPS, water filter, etc... We slept in between the fire and our kayaks using our (wet) spray skirts as blankets. It was a warm night. The next day we paddled more hours and by midday we took out at Puente Limon, a friendly little village. We drank a few beers and found transportation back to Mocoa. It was a great trip. And since that day Mark and I have wanted to return to this canyon. This year we were unlucky. Due to unpredictable weather and high water levels we were unable to paddle the Rio Caqueta again. I have to go back and paddle this river again with Mark in my heart. Mark... we will be back in this beautiful gorge again... Maud Verboven
20: This one seems to stick out because it shows how Mark could stir the pot and bring people together. There we were, we had made it to "last call," at the infamous Silver City Buffalo bar. To make it this far into the night without being stabbed, punched or thrown out took not only skill, but a lot of luck. Just after ordering our last beers, I went to use the toilet which seemed to have been used by its last patron for its flat surface and his coke addition. I exited the bathroom to see Mark at the jukebox selecting the last tunes for the night. He walked back to the bar and sat down as the first notes from Imagine by John Lennon drifted through the speakers, echoing in the air. I was sure our luck had run out as the rough bikers all turned to see who could have played such a song. The murmur of the bar grew quieter and I realized most people in the Buffalo were actually humming the song. The drunk at the end of the bar had his whole head up off the bar and was full on singing. The Buffalo bar that one minute ago had been a volcano ready to burst now seemed to be full of a bunch of sentimental bikers ready to deliver stuffed animals to kids. Mark and I walked home that night knowing in the morning we would be somewhere over the Gilla, sweltering and stuffed inside the otter nursing tremendous headaches, only to bail out over some of the most unforgiving jump country I had ever seen. But the Ballzyest thing I saw in Silver was at the Buffalo bar on a Thursday night. Justin Wood
25: HENTZE I met Mark in the late spring of 2000. In the fire business it's common to call each other by one's last name, and I will always think of Mark as Hentze. We went through rookie training together at Redmond, and he quickly became a favorite rookie bro. He had such a mild, calming manor, tinged with a subtle humor you could miss if you weren't paying attention. He was always respectful, polite, confident but unassuming and a champion for the underdog. These were some of his qualities which I much appreciated not only during the intensive rigors of becoming a smokejumper, but as friends with him in the years after. Although I only | campsite in the Salmon Priest Wilderness
26: worked at Redmond that summer, transferring the following season to Winthrop, Washington, where I currently live, I often and happily ran into Mark on the road. He was somebody who I felt that I could trust with those below the surface opinions and thoughts that I don't usually share lightly. One of the last fires I jumped was with him and six others at a beautiful spot in the Salmon Priest Wilderness in Northeast Washington. Afterwards we had a steep hike down to our pickup point on a Forest Service road that required much bushwhacking through thick vegetation. My king radio detached itself somewhere in the jungle from my pack. When I got to the road and realized it was missing, Hentze, of course Hentze, volunteered to help me backtrack undesirably uphill and through the heavy debris of plant life, keying his radio with the hope the we'd hear mine. It was akin to looking for a watch with a subdued alarm going off in an endless field of hay, but with his patient help we eventually found it. Whenever I traveled to Redmond, if Mark was around, I would always make sure to catch up on whatever his latest project was at home. Although we bought our houses around the same time and we both embarked on vigorous remodeling, his ambitions seemed to take shape at a much greater speed.
27: His sweat equity was inspirational and motivational to me, and I loved his sense of style and his eye for design. I often used his efforts as a template for my own do-it-yourself endeavors. Mark possessed a quiet passion for the beauty of life. He did amazing things with the lens of a camera, and could capture a moment in time so perfectly on film. He was also an amazingly gifted writer. I envied his ability to express himself on paper, and loved reading his stories and commentary. I admired his capacity to actively articulate and defend his convictions. Unlike many people who talk about what they believe is right, Mark acted upon that fearlessly. Of course I don't think about Mark without thinking about his love for water. Those rivers. He always had a gleam in his eye when the subject came up. I will forever be grateful to him for organizing and leading a three week trip of a group of mostly jumpers in the late fall of 2004 on the Grand Canyon. That experience of living on the river, that river-- feeling its power, its soothing voice, its sometimes placid, sometimes dangerous disposition, its pull and attraction, its rhythms-- it's something I cherish as one of my most prized adventures.
28: I was lucky enough to be Mark's boat mate. We were the first down every rapid. If you're familiar with the lingo, it wasn't even like being the first stick on a dicey fire jump; it was more like being a set of streamers. That was actually my initial novice's perspective. Because--whereas the streamer's fate is completely at the mercy of the wind-- I quickly learned how well Mark could read the river and bend it to his will with his alacrity at handling the oars. Even though I would sometimes wait at the boat, nervously pulling my eyelashes out with that gut turning, I-could-use-the-groover sort of feeling while he scouted the next rapid, I had complete faith in him and his skill to bring us safely to the other side. We also had what we considered our guardian angel, a blue heron that had been seemingly flying along with us since we put in, offering us a watchful, curious eye. Our last night on the river coincided with my birthday. We stayed up late drinking champagne I had somehow managed to keep corked for the occasion, but there was no alcohol or drug necessary to get the high that just being on the river, under the stars, smelling the willow induced. In lieu of traditional presents, I asked if everyone in the group would write down one memory of our time on the river together. This is what Mark wrote:
29: 12/19/2004 Since Nan made her request from all, I have spent many idle moments under the sun and under the stars trying to think of one moment symbolic of the entire trip. But I have failed to recall one hike, one sunrise or sunset, one expression, one quote, or one moment of laughter that captures the entire trip. The Grand Canyon is too Grand to capture with one memory. I have learned in all my work related wandering, wandering around the globe, and wanderings down rivers in rafts, and kayaks that the memories of the scenery, the sunrises and sunsets, the stars and the meteors, and all of natures wonders all fade to one conglomerated memory. However, the memories that always live on strong and clear are the times I spent with the people along the way. So my memory of the Grand Canyon that will always live on is the time I spent with new friends and old friends along the way. Happy B-Day Nan!! Mark I feel fortunate, Hentze, that I was able to spend some time during this life with you. I will miss your friendship dearly. Nan Floyd
30: Mark packing gear on the streets of Bogota, Colombia | "La Plaza" just after sunrise. El Cocuy National Park, Colombia
31: A Kogi child with a kayak. La Sierra Nevada De Santa Marta, Colombia Mark diving into the Rio Azul Meta, Colombia
32: T H E D A R K H O R S E
33: I don't remember the first time I met Mark. It must have been 10 or so years ago. That's at least when I started hearing tales about the one they called the "Dark Horse" from my brother who then started working with him. I started working with Mark at Redmond in 2005 and was generally fascinated. There was something mysterious about him. He was quiet, reserved, and mellow, yet the stories had him cheating death, or involved in a precarious or hilarious situation. I was excited to be working with the Dark Horse. I kept my eye on him as we often do with those who spark our curiosity. He walked around slow and smooth, in style, bobbing his head to some rhythm only he could hear. I thought he was cool and I tried in various ways to engage him in conversation; I found Colombia as a subject was a sure thing for a catalyst. I came to appreciate his satirical sense of humor. When I would see his toothy and mischievous smile or laugh, I would look around to see what demonstration of human folly had tickled his funny bone. Mark could sometimes be found in the sewing room working on some elaborate parachute repair. He would put in his two cents on sewing room banter now and again, especially to push Tony Laughton's buttons, and this he had perfected to an entertaining "T." Everybody knew when Mark picked the station on the satellite radio. Maybe he was trying to bring some culture to his co-workers. It was either some Latin Shakira like stuff, or some Euro "chill funk" station.
34: Inevitably you'd hear "AAwww Hentze!" from the rigging room next door. But Mark would pay no mind and do his "Hentze Dance" with more pizzazz to the eclectic beats and loud complaints. In fact, in the smokejumper world there was an entire genre of music named after Mark, "What is this, Hentze music?" and even a style of dance, "Check it out, I'm doing the Hentze dance." Which is more hip wiggling flavor that I like to see from most smokejumpers. I like Hentze stories. I have heard enough second-hand stories that my first-hand stories are dwarfed in comparison. His name comes up often around the campfire and I have grown accustomed to hearing it. I heard he was almost squashed by a giant tombstone in New England while roped into it demonstrating a climbing technique. In Redding, he accidentally lit a girls hair on fire while everybody else was in a giant brawl. I remember hearing he ran the Crooked river in flood stage. There are one or two "Mark fell out of a tree" in New England stories. He has told me several "stuck in hole in rapid" tales. I remember when he tried to drive his piece of junk truck to Colombia and made it part way through Mexico before his spine and his truck were rattled to disarray. We got an email at work once (or was it twice) that he was in a Colombian hospital with jungle fever. It struck me funny that he remodeled his house only to ruin his ceiling and new floor by practicing his fire dancing. He watched a child being born in the front seat of his van in Colombia... I know I'm missing some good ones.
35: It is difficult to label Mark, to pigeon hole him- impossible to put him in a box. Perhaps partly for the reason that he didn't fit any mold, he seemed to be able to adapt to all situations; smarts and ability played no small role, but being "weird" was one of my favorite of Mark's attributes. I appreciated it. How many Baker City High graduates are fire dancers? He's the only smokejumper I know that has a hoola hooping hobby. And I haven't met a bigger Shakira fan! Many people we work with are defiant against the norm, but he was bravely defiant. When courageously "weird" is thrown in a pot and stirred with talent, intelligence and passion it is bound to stir up some powerful magic. For as long as I knew him, he sparked my imagination. Thank you Mark... I miss you buddy. Mat Mendonca
37: Mark Hentze, Ralph Sweeny, Erin Springer, Nate Silva and Nathan Robinson | Josh Cantrell, Mark Hentze, Justin Wood and Young Jim Hansen
38: Josh Cantrell, Mark Hentze and Brandon Colville
39: A COUGAR, A BADGER AND A HENTZE It was nearing the end of a slow fire season in 2011. Everyone was ready to be laid off and start planning for their winter adventures. Fire was hardly on our minds as we were planning for the end of the season party: how we were going to get there, who was going to host the ceremonies, were there going to be ninjas running around, and what kind of keg we would be drinking. Everyone in the fire world knows that as soon as you're thinking of something other than fire; sure enough a fire happens. The phone rings in Operations and they have a jump request for the Aldrich Mountains. I believe it was Rubio that day, scrambling to gather people to fill the fire request. I headed to the base as soon as I got the phone call. When I arrived in the ready room, there were only two other people available to go - Mark Hentze and Justin Underhill. The three of us suited up, jumped on the plane and headed out to the fire. It was about a thirty minute flight to the fire. When we arrived on scene we started circling it and looking for jump spot opportunities. Right away you could tell this was a wind driven fire. It was moving in cheat grass and juniper. The fire started on top of the mountain and was backing down the slopes to the valley bottom. Rubio was already
40: throwing streamers at the longest meadow, it had an old two track road on it, which ended in what looked like a stream where an old bridge had caved in. Rubio said there was about five to six hundred yards of drift and told Mark to hook up. Mark was first in the door looking calm as ever. Rubio slapped him and away Mark went. He nailed the spot, as he always did, radioed up to the plane and said it was a good jump, a bit sporty, with a good landing zone. So away Dustin went, and then myself. We both hit the spot and immediately gathered our things and went to work. Mark assumed command and radioed for reinforcements and helicopter bucket support. We were told there would be a five person crew coming to help, but no helicopters were in the area. The three of us split up around the fire and started beating it out with wet gunny sacks. This was effective but we were sure glad to see the crew arrive around six pm. Finally, around 11pm, we had knocked down the flames and put the fire in check for the evening. When we all met in the middle, there was a great sense of accomplishment. We sat down for the first time in a while. As we were sitting there, I was listening to the local crews' conversation, and two of the guys were talking about this area being one of the most densely populated areas for cougars. We paid no attention to the talk of cougars and hiked down the hill to bed
41: down for the evening. The next day we got up early to tend to the fire. For the most, part everything looked good and the fire was in check. The day went fast and the fall night came quickly. The crew decided to head back into town to sleep for the evening. Dustin had to be back in Redmond the next day to witness the birth of his child so he left with the crew. Mark and I were left alone in the quiet. Down in the valley bottom, the cheat grass was thick and as tall as a person. Mark and I decided to make a fire and set up camp right at the end of the road where it met the creek. This was the only place that wasn't overgrown with grass, and we thought the creek would make a nice ambient sound. It was a nice camp, warm from the fire, enclosed from the surrounding grass and brush with a trickling stream right next to us. The night was long as we watched the fire and talked about all sorts of things. Mark spoke mostly of river rafting in Colombia, his house and all the fun things he was going to do this winter. Me, mostly about dirt biking and skiing, all the while this strange music was coming out of Mark's ipod. I think I might have recognized Shakira, but the rest, well, not really sure. It started to get late as I stood up and walked to the bridge to relieve myself. I was looking up at the stars when all of a sudden, I hear this really deep gurgled growl right below me. Holy shit - I jump backwards and look at Mark, "What the hell
42: was that? Did you hear that?" Mark heard it alright. He already had a huge stick in his hand and was walking toward the bridge to investigate. I followed his lead and grabbed the biggest stick I could find. As we slowly and quietly approached the bridge there was not a word from either of us. Looking over the edge, once again a deep throaty growl right below us scared us so bad we both jump back towards the fire. Again we test our luck and went to have another look. This time we get to the bridge and both take a whack at the brush to see what we scare up. BAM!! We hit the brush and sure enough our sweet cougar beaters break on the brush as we are trying to scare whatever was out there. Well it scared whatever it was out into the brush, and we both look at each other defenseless. Our sticks were broken and we were surrounded by tall brush, so we back up to the fire scared out of our minds! Five seconds later, this screeching sound that neither of us had ever heard before comes from the opposite direction of the cougar. This creature now stopped under the bridge and let out a high pitch scream for what seemed like an eternity. We immediately turned Shakira off to listen for the cougar to flank us and jump through the tall grass at us. We waited, then tensely waited some more but it did not return. Our next move, we decided, was to go down to the two track that was over grown with grass to get the chainsaw, pulaski and my tent
43: which I had put right in the middle of the grass field. We walked side by side down the two track road with knives in hand ready to be attacked. We finally arrived at the chainsaw and started it up, revved the gas and made as much noise as possible. We retrieved my tent and walked back to the fire where Mark set up his tent in one of the tire tracks and I set mine up in the other, right next to each other. We didn't sleep much that night! The next morning we had to have a look under that bridge. We were able to make out cougar and badger prints. Our theory ended up being that I had peed on the cougars head whilst he was stalking the badger, which is why he growled at us and took off. Needless to say that was our last night out there. I was fortunate to jump many fires with Mark, but this one being his last and the events that took place, I felt this story needed to be shared with everyone. I always enjoyed Mark's company. He was passionate, unassuming and a very intelligent person. He will be forever missed. Rest in peace, Mark. Jonah Gladney
44: Mark with Johanna | Mark on the Rio Guayuriba Cundinamarca, Colombia
45: Mark on the Rio Guatape. AntioquiaColombia
46: Mark Hentze is a damn good man! Calm and quiet in character, bold and strong in content. Like a good cup of Colombian coffee. I appreciate the time I spent with him, he truly has a sense of purpose here on Mother Earth Wayne A. Rissieww RAC '90 | Heidi Bunkers and Mark Hentze
47: The Dark Horse on a Dark Day As the Dark Horse, Mark was difficult to define, difficult to predict. One day he would "c'mon back" Coville's new truck into a tree and another day he would emerge victorious after a regulatory battle with our tyrannical air center manager Dan Torrence. One thing was for certain, Mark would cut a lot of slack for his peers but when it came to management he would not, could not give an inch. The Dark Horse's combination of compassion for his peers and bucking of authority got me through my worst day. I was dazed, hungover, and oozing blood from black eyes, a broken nose and a busted tooth. But worse than all that bleeding, I feared for the job I loved, the job that paid the mortgage and put shoes on the baby. On that day Mark guided me through the everyday activities that become so difficult when you cannot see and he talked me back to reality from a pit of despair.
48: In the previous days, he and I and six others had jumped a fire on the Siskiyous and demobed through Cave Junction, OR where we spent the night. We found a brewery and celebrated the last fire jump of the season. At ten o'clock Mark and two others went back to the motel while the rest of us continued to celebrate. At eleven o'clock we decided to call it a night while we could still walk back to the motel but as we left the bar we got jumped in the street by thirty locals. That's right, thirty. Hence, the bad day. I took the brunt of the punishment but most of us sported black eyes, cuts on the face or broken teeth. Back at the Redmond Air Center, I stepped out of the Sherpa expecting Dan to be on the tarmac to fire me for my debauchery. Dan, Mark's arch nemesis, would eagerly seek to make an example of us, especially myself and two others who were temporary employees, and easily disposed of. Dan was not there but we got word that he wanted to meet with us the following morning at nine o'clock. Mark helped me rack my gear and steered me away from the curious eyes of
49: our supervisors. Eventually Bill (our base manager) found me and brought me to the emergency room only to receive a cell phone call from Dan saying that he would not encourage workers' comp to foot the bill. I could not afford an ER bill so Bill brought me back to the base. When we returned, the base was empty, everyone had gone home. No more bros were there to joke about my injuries or make fun of my fighting style. The meeting with Dan the next morning was looming in my mind and I was alone with the thought that this might be my last afternoon at the base. I trudged into the locker room and there was the Dark Horse, seated on the bench, deep in thought. Mark's grasp of the written rules and regulations of the Forest Service policy was legendary. I felt a glimmer of hope when I saw him there waiting for me. I told him about the phone call from Dan at the ER and how Dan was going to fire me and probably Mat and Aaron the next morning. With quiet authority Mark replied "He is not going to fire you."
50: And then he dove into various reasons and justifications and examples from his extensive experience in disputes with Forest Service management. He referenced the Forest Service Manual and Handbooks often. This discussion lasted over an hour in the locker room and then in the truck as Mark drove me home to Prineville. In the beginning of that pep talk I was doomed, fearing my fate, but that changed. Maybe I would not get fired after all. By the time Mark dropped me off, hope was blossoming into defiance. They might fire me, but that's a crock o' shit! The rest is history, no one got fired, everyone was asked to come back the next summer. Aside from some dental bills we were none the worse for wear. Oftentimes when I am down, I recall the despair of that dark, dreary day in September and small actions or phrases become important, pivotal. Thanks Mark, for the support when I needed it most, the cigarettes on the fireline, and all that sarcasm. Marcel Potvin
52: Mark on the Rio Negro. Cundinamarca, Colombia
53: Mark was a historian and storyteller for the Smokejumper world. I loved listening to the stories about jumpers from all the bases. Whether they were told first hand or second they wove a vivid picture of wildfire and the community we all share. I am so lucky to have been able to really get to know Mark and to spend time with him. Mark was so open to teaching and sharing with people. Yet he would never force anyone into anything. If you wanted to know something he would gladly share his expertise with you. Spending time with Mark was effortless and super fun. I learned a lot through Mark, from climbing trees to hula hooping. His patience was endless, which is an essential trait when I am trying to learn a new skill. Living with Mark was an adventure as well. His home was a little oasis in Redmond replete with a hammock, rock fountain, garden and trees that levitated you to a foreign land. I had so much fun with Mark hanging out on the river, cruising Worcester, going to dinner and working with him. He really was a special person that I will miss from now on. Erin Springer
54: The one thing I will always remember about Mark... is what he told me once when we were in Winnemucca. We were basking in the sun, nomex and boots, t-shirts with the sleeves rolled up over our shoulders to get as much of a "non-farmer" tan as possible... switching back and forth as we counted off pull ups... I asked Mark if he was ever scared to jump out of the plane or if every time he was absolutely thrilled. He laughed and said "I'm terrified of jumping out of the plane!" I was not expecting that answer, honestly. That's probably why I will always remember it. He explained that he loved South America and kayaking and that was the main reason for sticking with jumping. It was an absolutely admirable statement because he was so honest without worrying about what anyone thought. Mark never tried to be someone he wasn't. He was honest, truthful and not afraid to admit what probably many of us think about jumping out of planes. I believe it is the fear and terrifying moment of jumping out of the plane that keeps us all coming back, or for some of us, thinking back, remembering it and never forgetting the feeling of jumping. It's that thrill and defiance, the feeling that we beat all the odds. Most importantly though, because of this statement, I knew I could trust Mark. He wouldn't bullshit you!! No "tough guy" attitude, yet he was one of the toughest guys I knew! I only wish now that Sara B. and I had taken Mark up on his invitation to the Grand Canyon in, I think, 2004. He needed extra folks... hindsight is always 20/20, of course. Julie Pendleton
55: Silver City, New Mexico
58: I could always tell when it was Hentze coming up or down the stairs at the base because without fail, he would sprint. It made such a racket, his footsteps echoing throughout the cement rooms, spreading a false sense of urgency that dissipated once he sauntered around the corner. In the summertime when the customary practice is "suns out guns out" Mark would take off and put on his shirt more times then I changed in a week. Occasionally I would find him wandering around the base looking lost, when asked what he was doing... he would reply softly with a grin... "Oh, just looking for my shirt." I can picture Hentze doing yoga for PT, twisting himself into impossible shapes and preforming balancing acts. I recall him on the basketball court twirling with his bowstaff for hours in the sun... I imagine how he used to whirl his way to the front of Renee Beams' window... taunting her with his shirtlessness... and his brazen contempt for authority. I think of him on his unicycle... wheeling around the compound and careening through the ready room with his ridiculous smile. RAC banned unicycles because of Hentze... a circumstance that surely infuriated him, but of which he was also proud. Hentze taught me how to climb trees. He spent hours getting
59: me up to speed before my first climbing trip to Massachusetts. Perched in the uppermost branches he'd watch me while I flailed about breaking limbs, passing out quiet tips here and there, but mostly laughing at my gracelessness. He would return from his own trip the following year with poison ivy in his eyeball and a lime disease scare from the deer ticks. Hentze and I jumped a fire on the Salmon Priest Wilderness in 2010 not far from the Canadian border. It was a mixed load from RAC, NCSB and MSO. The fire was in grass and retardant planes did the majority of the work for us. As some point Mark and I hiked up to an old lookout to take in the view. As we climbed around on the rocks Mark ripped a small hole in the crotch of his pants. Normally this wouldn't warrant discussion... but Mark was a habitual stretcher and he also wasn't wearing any underwear. Sitting around the fire I caught him a few times quickly jerk his legs together and giggle sheepishly. On our pack out, a steep, brushy bastard of a hike, he snagged himself in the tangle of vine maple, exacerbating the tear. That evening we stayed in a sweet little historic town and in the morning the two of us were standing in the sun next to the trucks waiting for folks to finish up their breakfasts'. I was facing him... he was telling me about the rivers in the area when suddenly he swung his leg up towards the bed of the truck for a stretch.
60: Mid act of swinging he realized his error. I watched his facial expression change as his foot hit the tailgate, but it was too late. His entire tackle box swung out from a gaping hole in his nomex... I was briefly blinded. I slapped my hands over my eyes. My face was burning and when I finished laughing my belly hurt. Cautiously, I removed my hands from my eyes... there was Mark leaning awkwardly against the cab, legs firmly crossed, grinning his Hentze grin from ear to ear. None of this is entirely accurate. These are only my interpretations. If Hentze were to read this, I'm sure he'd make changes to my narrative. That's the beautiful thing about stories, they enhance with time. Embarrassing moments become more so, the more they are told. Small acts become heroic. Fish grow larger, fires get bigger, rivers swell and become more tumultuous. So will it be for Hentze. His shenanigans are legendary. As long as there are camp fires and bros to sit around them, Hentze will be remembered. Through the stories of his family and friends he will remain, not frozen in a picture, but warm and vibrant and forever inspiring. The Dark Horse does not die... kt | The put-in to the Quinchana section of the Rio Magdalana. Huila, Colombia
61: Mountain scenery in El Cocuy. Boyaca, Colombia
62: I was asked to send in one picture of a memory shared with Mark. I have been scrolling through my photos and I never thought it would be so hard to pick out just one picture. It was a nice time on the computer though. Each and every photo I saw brought me back good memories. Pictures of the boys sitting in a car on the way to a river, crashed in the Grand Canyon after a hard day floating down the river, smoking a joint on some rooftop, enjoying a beach next to a river or being completely painted black after carnival. They all somehow managed to bring a smile on my face during the hard past weeks. Beside this: I saw awesome meals pass by on the pictures, often being prepared on a campfire somewhere on a beach. Because, as they say often about firefighters, Mark was a good firemaker. Not the type to start a fire 5 meters away from mine to show off that he was better. He had nothing to prove to his friends, but he made it, as it was just something he loved to do... Mark always wanted others to do what they love as well, so i could just sit, enjoy the mostly amazing scenery and have some time to relax and sip a beer. I saw pictures of the old Volkswagen hippie van Mark once had in Colombia. Packed with six boats and six guys going for a cruise and having fun. Unfortunately Mark ended up in the hospital from an infection suffered by the dirty water, but he would insist us to go on with the trip. That was the plan and there was nothing we could do there anyway. Well maybe buy
63: a liter of water and some medicines. It ended up in us buying loads of water and heading on with the trip and leaving Mark with tons of bottles of water as well. Everybody happy, as always. Talking of the Hospital, Mark was one of the easiest and strongest guys I have known when he had to visit the hospital. Where normal people would not dare to look at what ever the doctor was doing, Mark would just
64: take out his camera and film it all, with a smile on his face. I saw pictures of the two of us staring at some map. Because this was something we both always loved to do: drive over a bridge, make notes, buy the maps and study them thoroughly before heading into the area. Together but apart, both staring at our own piece of the map and then listen to what the other has to say. Mark was always fine with anything and would never argue with anybody. That made it easy for us to travel together for the six or seven winters. One of the last maps we studied was in early 2011, we did really well. We bought colored pencils and marked the roads in red, rivers in blue and the altitude lines were in black. It actually took quite some time, something Mark never bothered about too much. Before ever getting there we noticed that the map was from the year 1965. A quick phone call taught us that the river was long gone, as they built a dam there during those last almost 50 years. A shame for nature of course, but Mark never complained about the time wasted. We had a good time anyways, whatever we did... Above all I saw a lot of pictures with Mark along side many others. Sometimes in the middle and mixed with everybody, and sometimes in the center of attention amongst local people who wanted to know what this crazy guy was doing. This alien, as we kayakers must appear very strange to them in our funny, smelly outfits. Most of them staring at him
65: with an interested or smiling face. Mark usually sitting and staring somewhere in front of him. With that funny smile he could sometimes put on. Again, I never saw him in a fight or argue with anybody. And his smile, was always funny and saying different things. For example, Mark could not lie. You could always see this on his face if you knew him. This face was never shown to me, just to the ladies behind the counter at the bus station selling tickets. Sometimes a little lie was needed for getting those 3 boats on, and she was thinking that he was smiling at her ;-) Many pictures, many memories. And the cool thing was that I also saw lots of pictures without Mark in it, but still giving me the smile on my face of the good memories. Of course, sometimes it was because Mark also loved to make pictures and therefore was standing on the other side of the lens. There were hardly any pictures of parties. Marked loved to make pictures of the beauties of nature. Another reason why many pictures remind me of Mark | Mark driving the "Trooper." Rio Nare, Colombia
66: is because they were of some trip I was on, organized by Mark. He always liked to share his plans and took a lot of energy to make sure trips were arranged well. Not in an annoying way, but in his easy going way. Flexible and in the end always sweet. Sometimes really shocking in a positive way... as in "unbelievable"... as in "I never thought that he was capable of that" ... as in "Wow, that's fucking cool." Imagine to organize transport, boats, updating the crew, buying food and getting some dirtbags motivated for a 21 day trip down the Grand Canyon where he showed me the beauties of his country. I still owe him lots of thanks for that one! | Mark on the Rio Guatape. Antioquia, Colombia
67: Another thing he organized on a long term base was his project in Colombia of course. Sharing his love of the rivers in Colombia with everybody. From local kids who want to try his boat to pros coming over and wanting to get to know the place. He did not have to be the center of attention, he was just enjoying it all. He just loved sharing his passion and he had done a lot of good for kayaking in Colombia. He put it on the map by writing his book. A lot of behind the scenes. Until recently even I never knew that he has at least one email from somebody wanting info every single day. Where to rent boats, concerning safety issues, where to raft, what clothes to bring, questions about the seasons etc. etc. They all got a friendly reply I am quite sure. Even within the country people from different areas got to know each other through Mark, because he knew everybody. "Paddling in Colombia" and "Mark" were often in one sentence, and he will be on our minds every time we will be on a Colombian River in the future. | Cover of Mark's Guidebook
68: Well, the picture I sent with this writing is a picture I find really cool to me. It is one of the very few of which I don't know where it was taken or when it was taken. Don't even know what year it was, we both had the same clothes each year hahaha. We were together, but giving each other the freedom to enjoy our own ice cream. And even after staring I have no clue at which ice cream Mark is looking. Could be all three with a bit of imagination. But who cares, he would never steal a piece anyways, but would on the other side always be willing to share his... with anyone. And what's going on in his head? I will never know, but it is something creative, interesting and friendly for sure. And that is all that matters. That's how I will remember Mark. Looking at these pictures now that Mark is gone makes these good memories stronger. Looking at these pictures nowadays I have to think a lot about you Dick, Jan, Brad and Stephanie. It hurts. So I try to think about anything which could possibly be a positive thing. I think how close to Mark you guys are and all the time you have spent with him through all the different stages of his life. This is something to worship and to be happy about. Lots of good times and good memories!
69: I wish you all the best of strength! I hope we get a chance to meet one day and share nice memories... | Cheers Kees van Kuipers
70: S t o r y By Y o u n g J i m H a n s e n
71: A few years ago, Mark was in charge of a load of us that jumped a fire on the West slope of the Steens. The ground was rocky, and we jumped into a small meadow below the fire. The fire itself was about thirty acres, and the cargo had been dropped into the burn, saving us the burden of humping it up the hill. Hiking to the fire, we were overtaken by a rapidly developing thunderstorm. It began to rain, and soon lightning began to strike all around. We pressed on through slashing rain. Lightning flashes illuminated our little world with an intensity that seemed scarcely real. A bolt struck directly behind us, and Mark, Gary Atteberry and I turned to see a gout of smoke rising off a juniper tree accompanied by an evil hiss. With each bolt we leaped and vaulted over the sagebrush. We were soaked now, with water pouring off the cuffs of our sleeves. It seemed that this was how doughboys in World War One must have felt, going over the top into no man's land. I don't know if I've ever felt more vulnerable or exposed. Out there, on the broad alluvial plain, with lightning hammering all around, there was no place to go for shelter or retreat. The situation left just two choices; stay put, or keep going. I've thought about that
72: day a lot since then, about how sometimes life offers the choice between the unpalatable and the impossible ,or how in the face of peril the burden of inaction can be as tough to bear as that of moving forward. That day, as in much of his life, Mark kept moving forward. Across a pretty broad swath of this world, Mark pushed on to see what was coming next. Thinking about it now, it seems that during a lot of my more intensely lived moments of the last few years, Mark was somehow involved. On the Canadian border in Minnesota, we were patrolling for spotfires by canoeing on a mile-long slackwater slough with just river otters for company one deliriously beautiful late fall day, and skimming across a landscape of fresh-fallen snow punctuated by a hundred lakes in a Forest Service floatplane the next. We scampered across impossibly steep slopes in the North Cascades, where losing your footing meant a plunge into a canyon that you could never climb out of under your own power. We furiously cut fireline through a manzanita patch in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness by hand with little pruning saws after running our chainsaw out of gas. Our fire would be stopped cold by another torrential rainstorm, and on the hike out we stopped to admire wildly exotic tiger lilies that grow nowhere else on earth.
73: I often tell people that smokejumping is like any other fire job, only more so. The joy, the toil, the tranquil moments - just like other moments in fire, but a little more intensely felt. Similarly, a lot of the times I shared with Mark were just like smokejumping, only more so. And while for many people, smokejumping would feel like being shot out of a cannon, for Mark is was merely the most mundane job he could tolerate while planning for the next adventure. While those of us with career ambitions carp about the inanity and bureaucratic hubris we're compelled to endure, Mark burned with utter contempt for tedium and specious nonsense. He was looking over the next horizon, looking beyond the ordinary and heaping scorn on the listless and uninspired. Those of us attempting to shepherd our little careers toward a cozy retirement might regard Mark's attitude as rash or imprudent - flinging a few pointed barbs while getting ready to bolt off to some far-flung corner of the globe, but beaten paths are for beaten men, and sometimes Mark just couldn't be troubled to put up with the nonsense that many of us timidly accept. There is a world - a big world- outside the cubicles and beige buildings of officialdom, and Mark was determined to find it. Let his success serve as an inspiration to us all. Mark may not have known the words, but he surely knew the spirit of the 13th century poet Rumi:
74: ...but come! Take a pick-axe and break apart your stony self the heart's matrix is glutted with rubies springs of laughter are buried in your breast unstop the wine jar, batter down the door to the treasury of nonexistence the water in your jug is brackish and low smash the jug and come to the river!