Death of beloved outdoorsman sends ripples through community
A Mount Shasta man known for his adventurous spirit, a love for the outdoors and his infectious, booming laugh died Thursday evening after slipping on a steep trail while carrying a kayak down to the Sacramento River at the Box Canyon Dam trailhead.
Leif Hansen, age 61, fell down a cliff and succumbed to his injuries despite the valiant effort of two companions who were with him at the time, according to information released by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.
“I imagine Leif had walked down that trail close to 1,000 times over the past 30 years or so,” said Jack Moore, Leif’s friend of more than 35 years, “including the early days when there wasn’t even a rope to hold onto along the trail.”
In fact, about three years ago, he and Leif worked on that same trail together, “putting in a few steps at particularly steep sections to make it a little safer for kayakers who were paddling their boats down to the river to paddle box canyon,” Moore said.
Leif was “a huge piece of this community,” said Scott Anderson, who was with Leif at approximately 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening as they headed to the river to enjoy one of Leif’s many passions.
Anderson explained that at the time of the accident, a couple was coming up the trail. “I think he was just being gracious and stepping aside so they could pass, and he slipped and fell,” Anderson said.
Despite Anderson’s attempts to revive Leif with CPR alongside Dr. Sean Malee, who was also present, they were unsuccessful and Leif was pronounced dead at the scene, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Leif, who began Cutting Edge Adventures alongside Stefanie Woods 1989, enjoyed a plethora of outdoor activities, including rafting, sailboating, kayaking, kite boarding, motorcycling and surfing. He was the first Ski Patrol Director for the Mt. Shasta Ski Park when it first opened in 1985 until 1988.
Leif helped build many of the Si Park’s facilities, including all of the chairlifts and many of the buildings. He stayed involved as a professional ski patroller “up until two weeks ago,” when the park was cleaned up for the summer months, said Anderson.
Leif had a special talent in mentorship, and would always find the time to help train and develop new staff, “selflessly sharing his years of wisdom and expertise,” said Mt. Shasta Ski Patrol Director Nick Caselli. “Much of our collective knowledge of how to operate our patrol comes from Leif. He was always driven and passionate about his ideas for how to improve the Ski Park and make our patrol the best it could be.”
Caselli said Leif was the first to respond to a report of an injured or lost guest, and over the years he no doubt came the aid of thousands of skiers in their time of need.
“His strong and decisive, yet always calm, caring, and compassionate manner, was a huge asset in these emergency situations,” said Caselli. “Leif was always loyal and dedicated to the Ski Park, and was one of it’s greatest advocates in the community. He was always there for opening day, closing day, special events, difficult projects, search and rescues, first chair, closing sweep, and last call. And anytime the snow was deep, and conditions were great, you could find Leif at the park, skiing run after run.”
Caselli said the patrol will never be the same and they hope to carry on Leif’s legacy “of being an incredibly hard worker, passion for helping and teaching others, and always having more fun than anyone else.”
“We’ll miss you Leif, and your booming and distinctive laugh will continue to echo around our slopes for many years to come,” Caselli added.
Leif also had his pilot’s license and enjoyed flying, said Moore.
“He was always up for adventure,” said Moore. “He was my right hand man.”
Anderson described Leif as “outgoing and boisterous ... a big kid in an adult’s body” with a laugh that was simply contagious.
“It was impossible not to smile when you were around him,” said Anderson.
“Leif just had that joyful, infectious spirit,” said Moore. “He had this quality that made you believe in yourself. If you weren’t certain about something, he could sit with you and give you confidence. Even if you weren’t certain about something, he was. He believed in people. He had a ‘go for it’ attitude and always pulled it off, no matter what it was.”
Another quality that stood out for Moore was Leif’s knowledge in many different areas of life.
Leif was also a local contractor, and his knowledge of construction, rock work, and timber was extensive, said Moore. “He was a real craftsman.”
Over the past few years, Anderson said Leif was “diving into the deeper aspects of life” and was “really advancing in self growth, developing a respect for life and others.”
Moore said the differences Leif made in peoples’ lives will have a ripple effect in the community and his spirit will continue on.
Leif was happy until his last moments, Anderson said, laughing with his friends on their way to do something he loved.
Leif leaves behind a son, Zach. A Go Fund Me memorial campaign is raising funds for him. To find the campaign, go to https://bit.ly/2Q4mMqj