Of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.”- John Muir
It has come time, to pass on the sacred experiences to my son. This place has been in my family for generations. My great grandma came here to ‘camp’ in the Ohanapecosh Hot Springs. There were cabins then, and now, a pristine meadow surrounding the burbling sulfur water next to the nature trail. My dad talks about trips as a kid, dipping a tin cup into the glacial river for a cool drink on a hot day. I tell stories of the giant stump we used as a tree fort every year, whether it was our campsite or not. I talk about the time in college I camped alone for 3 days, encountering a bear on my hike, and the 10 mile impromptu hike I did with a college chum on another occasion.
I am so tied to this mountain that soon I will get it’s beauty permanently marked on my body. When I die I want my ashes scattered here.
The sacred experience lives inside me. And so, this weekend, we had a meetup with my parents to pass along the wisdom to Potamus. The mountain was socked in. It’s so massive that it creates its own weather patterns. I knew it was there, majestic, behind the mystical fog. I only feel sad for the couple from Boston who was hiking for the day, that they wouldn’t get to see the glory. They seemed content with the view of the Tattoosh range, but they don’t know the glory up close. Like mistaking a statue for God.
We hiked to Myrtle falls with a bunch of other tourists. Potamus ran the .5 miles up the paved trail. We made friends with other ‘hikers.’ We saw a hoary marmot and the last remains of the wildflower season. Is winter coming early to the mountain this year after a glorious summer? When we were thoroughly tired, we explored the ‘new’ Jackson Visitor center. I marveled that I hadn’t been here since it opened in 2008. How could I go 6 years without visiting my spiritual center? Only getting small drinks in from a distance on clear days as I commute across the I-90 bridge.
When I was a child, almost through the end of high school, I wanted to be a park ranger in the Mt. Rainier National park. When I met my biological aunt, many years later, I learned she had. Perhaps this mountain is in my blood as well as in my experience. And now, maybe, it will live in my son’s blood and experience, as well.
“The mountain receives our expression and becomes part of us; we imprint our memories on it, and trust it with our dearest divisions of our lives. Mt. Rainier does not exist under our feet. Mt. Rainier lives in our minds.” Bruce Barcott