The Road to Rainier: There And Back Again

Completing Ohio’s Forget the PR Mohican 50k isn’t my only big goal for 2019. It’s more of a teaser for the summer and fall to come. I’m turning 40 this spring and that life milestone seems like the perfect excuse to return to one of the most memorable places that I’ve ever called home.

My family in Seattle, circa 1987. My t-shirt was a lie: I've never been surfing.
My family in Seattle, circa 1987. My t-shirt was a lie: I’ve never been surfing.

My family relocated from Cincinnati to Seattle for a brief time in the mid-1980s. My parents packed up me, my infant sister, and our West Highland Terrier into the family Astrovan and we proceeded to make the drive from Ohio to Washington. It was my first taste of cross-country adventure, my first exposure to our National Parks, and my first introduction to the true size and scope of these United States of America.

A sign containing information about Mount Rainier.Living in Seattle (technically the suburb of Renton) as a child was a remarkable experience. Nearly every weekend was an adventure to Puget Sound or the Space Needle or British Columbia or Mount Rainier. Maybe we would see whales on a ferry ride or explore forests filled with massive Redwoods. There seemed to be an amazing new experience at every turn.

As a child, the hulking size of Mount Rainier probably left the deepest impression. Literally, in fact. I suffered my first concussion on one particularly ill-fated trip to the mountain, receiving a hairline fracture in my skull after a family member decided to take me on an illegal sled ride down a heavily forested pass. Despite its imposing nature, the thought of Mount Rainier always brought me comfort and the area surrounding it always felt like home. Imagine my surprise when I learned it was actually a giant dormant volcano.

I haven’t visited Washington since 2012, which seems like another lifetime ago at this point, but I’ll finally be returning later on this year. I can’t wait to introduce my wife to this part of the country that means so much to me. We’ll even be spending a few nights at Mount Rainier’s Paradise Inn. These are the kinds of excursions that make all of the trivial workplace stressors and all of the day-to-day life drama worth the trouble.

Approaching Mount Rainier in June of 2012.
Approaching Mount Rainier in June of 2012.

To quote Nietzsche, which is not something I’m often apt to do:

“He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary.”

This life is full of so many tragedies, both real and imaginary, but the mountains always have a way of helping us find perspective. Let’s go be wild for a while.

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