A memory from June 25th 2016
The mountains were waiting. They were howling our names. And we were howling back. The wind ripped through our hair as we drove with the windows down, breathing in the fresh, elevated air. There was nothing more pure.
Our excitement could not be contained. After figuring out all the logistics of campsite and getting firewood for the night, we allowed ourselves to relax. Setting up hammocks in the trees, making the tent, eating lunch. We marked our territory, making sure others knew we were there to stay. Trying to find a comfortable spot in the heat of the sun took some work. Trying to motivate ourselves to get in the car to go hike took even more work. But we did it. And thank God we did.
Arriving at the trailhead, there was a mass of people. Visitors from around the world, in this beautiful wonderland to explore and to see the beauty that Mt. Rainier had in store. The clouds covered her majestic peak. I felt bad for the visitors who traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to see this mountain and yet it was being shy.
And so we started up our hike. I was anxious because I know my friend Shaelie who planned the trip likes challenging hikes. But I knew I was up for it because I had a wonderful set of people there to support and encourage me. Thankfully, the snow kept us at a nice pace. Yeah, there was snow in June on the mountain. It was pretty unreal. What Christina and I like to call “supreme reality.” I felt like the end of our hike was not near and was gonna be a bit of a treck, and it was. But isn’t it about the journey and not the destination?
That is an overused cliché that definitely was true for this hike. As we moved up the mountain we found ourselves stopping to take photos of marmots, the mountain ridge in the distance, and to get a nice acroyoga photo. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!). And the laughs and smiles along the way! Oh my, we were so enthused to be in tank-tops while hiking up a snowy mountain.
And guess what, Mt. Rainier warmed up to us and decided to say hello. The clouds cleared away as we hiked up and we were able to witness the beautiful glaciers covering her peak. We even had a few heart-pounding moments of hearing glaciers moving on an unseen part of the mountain. We were all quite thankful that we were not in the way of that snow mass.
After a short break for post-lunch snacks, we traveled up to what we made our final viewpoint. In the distance we could make out Mt. Adams and if it had been clearer we would have seen Mt. St. Helens as well. As beautiful as those mountains are, they also hold some very dark stories.
One of them being the tragic story of a friend. Blair, who was hiking up with us that day, was using the mountain range interpretive site to understand what she was looking at. On the photo it mentioned the mountains that she lost a friend to only a month or so prior. To come face to face with the rocks that took her friend… it opened up so much emotion and was completely unexpected. We gave her some space, not yet knowing what was going on, but then upon consoling her realized why she was off to the side. I cannot begin to understand the heart brokenness that she has had to experience with losing this friend. I can only imagine how raw her emotions were in that moment when she was already experiencing an open heart for everything else that had happened during the day.
But Blair bounces back like a champion. She understands how precious life is and finds any opportunity she can to enjoy it to the fullest. And so began the mountain top dance party. We threw on a little music, probably looked like a crazy, rambunctious group, and shaked our booties. We didn’t care what others thought. I admit, we were “that group”. We were being silly, reckless, and just on this emotional and physical high. It was… unreal. It was supreme reality.
We didn’t let the party stop there though. We kept the music going all the way down the mountain, letting it be the soundtrack to our Hollywood-like life. We slid down the hills like penguins, ran and leapt in the snow without care, and shared more laughs and smiles. It is a blessing that everything during out hike worked out quite perfectly, without any injury as carefree as we were being.
A favorite quote comes to my mind.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable. – Helen Keller
I could not have said it better. As I start to pack up my things to move onto the next daring adventure, I find myself realizing how much I hold onto unnecessary items. I would not call myself a hoarder, but I definitely fill up my life with too much “stuff”. What does this have to do with adventure? It tells me that I am afraid. I am afraid to let go of things, people, and to move forward. I cannot let it debilitate me into anxiety and nervousness to what may lie ahead, but the best is truly yet to come. And I have to keep telling myself that. I have to run down mountains without regard for whether I will stumble and fall, and if I do, then I can always slide down, whooping and yelling along the way. I can smile and laugh at my mistakes and I can learn to recognize how precious each moment is. I can be more present with my friends. I can choose either to live a life of fear or a life of adventure.