I took this photo in Mount Rainier National Park while hiking the Wonderland Trail in 2012. You can support my blog by ordering a print in my Etsy store. Use coupon code 5OFF2013 and receive $5 off any purchase of $15 or more.
THE STORY BEHIND THE PHOTO...
As I ventured to the north side of the Wonderland loop, it seemed more and more like I hopped into the pages of a children’s illustrated book of fairy tales. A land created by artists, not natural processes. Wildflowers bloomed everywhere and lush green plants and moss grew everywhere else.
At Mystic Lake, my view of Rainier was as close as ever. I got a better feel for how massive it is. I could now see cliffs of ice, several stories high, which formed where immense glaciers cracked and tumbled down the mountain. Eventually, I was close enough to see the thin meandering trails left by mountaineers climbing to its peak.
After setting up camp in a thick pine forest, I leaned against a log, ate dinner, and read a book. Through the trees, I heard pops, bangs, and cracks coming from Rainier. I wondered if the melting glaciers were cracking apart or if the swelled creeks from the melting snow and ice were tossing huge boulders downstream like billiard balls.
Soon, the crack of lightning joined the percussive sounds coming from Rainier. The sky above me still had a lot of blue behind nonthreatening white clouds, but Mount Rainier is so big it has its own weather.
It is definitely one of Earth’s great mountains.
The next morning I walked out of the pines and got this gorgeous open view. I stopped for a photo. An adventurous older man walked by and stopped. After we shared a silent moment staring at Rainier, I asked, "You ever think of hiking to the peak?"
He looked at the mountain reverently as though contemplating it for a bit then exhaled and said, "No."
"I think I do," I said.
Even though I crossed the Wonderland Trail from my life list, I added "Climb to the Top of Mount Rainier." Will this list ever get any shorter? If I don't stop adding to my list of things to do before I die, I don't think I'll ever get around to dying.
A Backpacker's Life List by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.