Sometimes in life, you just need a push.
I went to Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park recently, when my sister-in-law Tori’s best friends – Tabitha and Cody – were in town from Texas.
Like a good Washingtonian, when out of town visitors show up, I immediately took them to the mountain.
My goal was to reach the switchbacks on the Golden Gate Trail, which really aren’t that far, but it would mark the furthest I’ve ever been – though normally I’m carrying my daughter Catarina and this time that wasn’t the case.
We easily made it to the switchbacks and after a long break at the creek near the base of them, we started up. Initially I said I thought I could only make it up two switches and at some point, I turned around and went and sat down – telling the rest of the crew to continue without me.
I was pretty content to be tired and give up.
But old Cody wasn’t having it. He came running back down the trail 5 minutes later and told me there was a big clearing and I should at least reach that if I’ve come this far.
So, I trudged up the hill after him. And sure enough there was a stunning perch – though we had no view because of the low clouds and the thick fog.
I quickly felt revived and we continued up some steep stairs coming to a trail junction – apparently we were just .9 miles from Panorama Point.
Once again, I didn’t want to go. There was snow after all, and we weren’t prepared for that type of hiking.
But the Texans weren’t having it and once again gave me that gentle push (more like they made fun of me, but hey, whatever works) and off we went.
We traversed a few snow fields, saw some cool mini ice caves and eventually reached another junction.
This one said, “Panorama Point – .9 miles” … what the heck? Didn’t the last sign say that? Anyway, the lower trail that was just .3 miles from the point was closed because of ice, so the upper trail doubled the distance.
Once again, some gentle prodding kept us going.
Eventually I did run out of gas, and sat down never to rise again. Well, at least not for 30 minutes or so.
The youngsters continued on, climbing high above me – though never reaching the Point.
The reason I write this blog, though, is because the reward for being pushed further than my previous limits was when the fog suddenly lifted and laying before me was an awe-inspiring spread of mountains.
The Tatoosh Range in the foreground and Mount Adams, Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens in the background.
What a sight! Oh, what awesome grandeur that must be seen to be believed.
And thanks to some gentle pushing from some new friends, I got to see it with my own two eyes.
– Craig Craker
P.S. To cap off the hike, Cody asked Tabitha to marry him. Not sure he needed much of a push there, as they’ve been together a long time. But it was a cool way to cap the day.