I’m lingering over my second cup of coffee, trying to work up the courage to leave my house on this foggy grey morning. Wrapped in two wool sweaters, I’ve just polished off a biscotti cookie from my favorite bakery back home. My mom sent the biscotti and other hometown favorites in this sweet gift package meant to cheer us on in our journey.
The warmth of family and friends buoyed our spirits over Thanksgiving, and we spent the long weekend near Mt. Rainier National Park with two of my favorite people in the whole world. We stayed in a cozy log cabin surrounded by tall evergreens and brilliant green ferns. In the foothills the weather was cool and rainy, giving the moss a spongy appearance and making the autumn leaves slick and shiny. The cabin had everything we needed to cook our evening meals, which were followed by a rousing two-night game of Spades that ended with just enough time to squeeze in a viewing of that cinematic classic, The Big Lebowski.
During the day we went snow shoeing on the quiet, winding trails at the base of Mt. Rainier. We had the trails largely to ourselves, and we traversed them slowly enough to hear the snow falling from the tree limbs overhead. Sunday’s weather made venturing too far dangerous and ill-advised, so we took a path the ranger described as ‘safe, as long as you stay straight–don’t stray to the left or to the right.’ It was challenging to stay straight on an unmarked trail in the driving wind and snow, and after half an hour the path become difficult to discern so we turned back, fighting the biting wind the entire way down. But on Monday the skies were clear and sunny, and the top of Mt. Rainier was visible throughout the park.
We hiked the Narada Falls trail to Reflection Lake, where we picnicked in the snow, surrounded by little grey birds who happily scavenged for the seeds from our bread. The Falls were thunderous and vast, with sheets of white water pounding the snow and ice below. The trail was steep and poorly marked, but we found our way in spite of these barriers, and it felt good to push onward, straining to stay upright on the cliffside switchbacks and their hairpin turns. Our foursome was sometimes chatty and sometimes pensive as we wandered through the wintery landscape, together. The company and the terrain provided a perfect mix of respite and challenge, comfort and strain.