Duke Watson, circa 1960.
  Duke Watson  
  A Mountaineer for All Seasons  
  by Lowell Skoog  

Ohe trail was rough, the footing uneven. Although my companions were mostly in their seventies or older, they negotiated the steep trail with ease. I had joined a party of “Friday hikers” led by R. Duke Watson, a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division in World War II. Duke’s hiking partners included a former president of The Mountaineers, distinguished outdoor photographers and journalists, and several legends of Himalayan climbing. It was clear that all of them held Duke in the highest regard. One friend said that when Duke was asked about his experiences as a mountain soldier during World War II, his typical response was to “kick his toe in the ground and give an ‘aw shucks, nothing much’ reply.” But his friends knew there was more to his story. Duke Watson’s record as a mountain soldier is just one chapter in a remarkable outdoor life, now in its 91st year. He is an example of the quintessential Northwest mountaineer, a man of great accomplishment, even heroism, that few people have ever heard of.

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