It was 1998. He awoke to his beard on fire, his mangy head of hair smelling like a dog had been roasting in the oven. Running for the door he was greeted by an oppressive Appalachian mist hanging in the air as he exited into the yard. The ER mirror reflected a soot blackened face. His life had changed, and he would never return to finish his degree at Ohio State.
Danny Walton was one of the first people I remember after moving to town. For a year I only knew him by his moniker “Irie” and had only recognized him because he was one of about three freeheel skiers I ever saw on Baldy that first winter. His story, like many, started as a kid going skiing in jeans at some little hill outside of town. Family friends made trips to Sun Valley, and one afternoon, with the smell of smoke still in his skin, he packed up and took a trip out west to visit those friends in Sun Valley. He would only return home to collect the rest of his personal belongings, which by that time wasn’t much. He would call the Valley his new home. For good.