We're all guilty of taking our local wonders for granted. I see the mountains every day. They surround the house and dominate my commute to work. I spend much of my free time in them. You'll hear me say things like, "Ugh. Mt. Si, again," or "It's just Mailbox Peak." Sure, these mountains aren't special by Washington's standards, but put them in much of the world and they'd stand out.
Mt. Rainier is different. It's hard to ignore its majesty. But it is easy to forget that not everyone can drive just a few hours to get to the Park. I look at a trip to Rainier as something that's always an option if I have a free day.
The easiest way to reawaken your awe is to go with someone not familiar with it. It used to be my kids, but by now I've spoiled them. Instead, I took the opportunity to plan a trip with fellow Deuter ambassador, Matt, and his friend, Poria, visiting from the East Coast. They're not mountain newbies, but it would be their first adventure on the Mountain.
I planned a simple route that started in my secret spot (the lower trailhead by the staff quarters), wound up through the trees to an aha moment when the Mountain is first visible, along the edge of the Nisqually moraine, up to Pano Point, down to Mazama Ridge, and back to the car. Simple and easy with plenty of views.
Right on cue they gaped at the mountain. Every time we turned a corner and got another view it was a repeat. Their reactions reminded me of some of the first times I saw the Mountain up close. It was amazingly satisfying to see their appreciation for where we were.
We looped up over Pano Point and almost all the way to McClure Rock before turning toward Mazama Ridge. Unfortunately, we had to retrace our snowshoe tracks almost back to Pano Point because the slope we had intended to descend had a scary crack of blue to black. I'm sure the slope wouldn't have failed, but it wasn't worth the risk. Especially not when the views on the way back to an alternate route down were just as stunning as on the way up.
Once we found a way down to the connecting ridge, past Golden Gate, we crossed a huge snow-covered plain arriving at the familiar Mazama Ridge. From there, it was a short drop to Paradise Road and a long slog back up to the car.
As we drove out of the Park, Matt and Poria thanked me profusely for taking them to see the Mountain. What they didn't realize is I had as good a time as they did. Plus, they reminded me that my proximity to the Park was a true gift.
If you get the chance to show off what's special about your part of the world don't hesitate. Make the time to show your guests the best you have and you'll come to realize how wonderful it really is.