by Linda Winnie and Barb Boorman
Long-time Flathead Audubon member Ed Prach passed away this past June in California. He was 94. Ed was for many years a regular participant in Flathead Audubon, and well known in the Flathead as one of Glacier’s premier hikers.
Ed first came to the Flathead to work on the Hungry Horse dam as a field engineer. He and his wife Carla fell in love with the place. They moved to Whitefish in 1987 after Ed retired, and one of the first things they did was join Flathead Audubon, back when the meetings were still held in Bigfork. They quickly became active in FAS activities and became regulars at FAS meetings.
Ed served on the FAS Board for 8 years (1990-1998), and was in charge of FAS Programs for 7 years (1991-1998). Carla was in charge of Hospitality for FAS meetings during most of this period. Ed participated in all of the Owen Sowerwine Work Days, and every summer he and Roy Dimond (a founding member of Flathead Audubon) signed up as a team to do a scheduled Owen Sowerwine Volunteer Monitoring Visit. He had many Flathead Audubon friends.
Ed loved to hike. He was often accompanied by one of his Audubon hiking companions: Loren Kreck, Roy Dimond, and Barb Boorman. He was a long-time member of the Over-the-Hill Gang, and with that group walked most of the trails in Glacier Park and climbed 12 of its mountains. He also participated in most of the Montana Wilderness Association’s Wilderness Walks in northwest Montana, on both sides of the Divide, and served as Secretary of the local MWA chapter for eight years. Ed also explored trails in the southwest with the well-known Southern Arizona Hiking Club while wintering at his winter home in Phoenix. He had joined the club in 1991, making him one of its earliest members.
Ed was one of those people who took on new challenges with courage and determination. In 2000, at age 77, he suffered a life-threatening fall in Glacier Park while tackling Mt. Reynolds with some of the Over-the-Hill Gang. He slowly recovered and pushed through a tough program of rehabilitation. Eventually he was spending summers on the trails in Glacier again. In 2006, at age 81, he climbed up to the Mt. Brown Lookout in Glacier with Barb Boorman on his two new artificial knees. And that same year he started taking dancing lessons.
Hiking wasn’t Ed’s only passion. In the winter months, he cross-country skied when he was in the Flathead, and bicycled when he was in Arizona. Ed was also loved music – classical and jazz. He attended the Glacier Symphony concerts whenever he was in the Flathead, and would drive to Missoula for jazz performances.
In late 2013, just after he turned 90, Ed moved to California to live closer to family. When he left the Valley his Flathead Audubon family missed him. Ed had been one of those people you look forward to seeing when you went to FAS meetings. When walked in and looked around the meeting room, you were sure to spot him — a shock of white hair, a wide smile, a twinkle in his eyes, chatting with someone about his latest hike.