…the most luxuriant and the most extravagantly beautiful of all the alpine gardens I ever beheld in all my mountain-top wanderings. – John Muir
A vibrant, orange sunrise pierced the purple sky, extinguishing the faded stars while setting the day ablaze. Leaping up and soaring west, darkness parts before the advancing dawn like a torch, plunged into the abyss. Another adventure awaits in Washington; a desirous sight that will no longer go unseen! The great mountain, Rainier, whose peak rises to heights where eagles fly and soar among whisping clouds, beckons to those explorers from afar, as if it were a beacon; a mighty lighthouse amidst a stormy sea. What brings the heart to feel such a desire to travel so far? To harken to and behold the great monuments of nature, not made by human hands? Is it strange, when mankind has all of its cities and its spectacles, that one would feel at home in a place where these commodities and conveniences are absent? This is a natural feeling, brought about by harmonizing with the natural world; a filter that catches the distractions and anxieties of everyday life. What well or reservoir has purer, more refreshing water than that of a roaring mountain stream? What air is cleaner than that which is free from car exhaust and pollution? What challenge is more worthy than joining the eagles on a mountain, among the clouds and the snow of late summer?
The ominous hum of the powerful, gusting winds permeated the atmosphere, as the sound of rushing waterfalls, fed from melting snow above, bounced off of the rock walls below. The scent of mountain wildflowers, combined with the crisp alpine air invigorated every limb, while simultaneously calming the mind. This nirvana-like sensation felt pure, inspiring every step forward, over gravel, dirt, and snow. Hiking higher and higher, a new vista presented itself, each one more grand than the last! The winding trail lead to a shelf overlooking the Nisqally Glacier, it’s crevasses wide enough to swallow a bus, before meandering back down into a valley of creeks and waterfalls. The sun, who’s inviting presence warmed the day, slid behind the clouds, which had reclaimed the trail and eventually hid the mighty Mt. Rainier from sight.