When Americans look at our National Park system, I hope they are filled with a sense of pride. These national treasures do more than define our landscape. They define who we are as people. At times, capitalism, particularly in the last decade or so, has felt like a run-away freight training exploiting miles and miles of straight downhill track. Our national parks put the brakes on that exploitation and proudly boast, “Not here.” Here, is about saving these vistas, streams, mountains, forests and beaches for a future generation. Here, life should be unspoiled by money and influence. Here, the stress of finances and all it encompasses should be left at the gate.
Pinnacle Saddle, a summit inside of Mt. Rainier National Park, should fill you with pride. By no means is Pinnacle an easy hike. Most of it is a constant rise in elevation and it is particularly brutal on a hot summer day. The futile battle with horse flies the size of house cats was no cake walk either. Yet, once again, the pain, sweat and pointless swatting was the worth the trouble. At the very end of the hike, you turn around to a view that triumphs any words I could muster. In this moment, all those little annoyances fall away and everything is right in the world.
If you have ever swiped through any of my photos, you know I have intense love for wildflowers. I don’t know where this passion originated, but my guess is my mother. She has encyclopedic knowledge for flowers. She can stroll through a garden, greenhouse or passing field and name the flowers as she spots them. With every photo I take, I feel like I am making a connection with her and something she loves. I am also always amazed where wildflowers grow. They have an uncanny ability to thrive in places where you believe nothing should prosper. There is probably a lesson for us all in there somewhere.
I didn’t come on this hike on my own impetus. Due to a busy month with the Seattle International Film Festival and several friends visiting from out of town, I wasn’t able to spend much time with Brandon. Pinnacle Saddle was our opportunity to reconnect. It was an opportunity to share something so very important to me with someone who is successfully winning the competition for surpassing admiration. With each one of these trips, we learn more and more about each other. As we left the park, windows rolled down blaring Alabama Shakes, I felt something different; something I haven’t felt in a very long time.
These are the moments I will remember forever. They are based on experiences not things. Getting to and from Mt. Rainier National Park didn’t cost us a lot of money. It took no more than an investment of our energy and time. It required our presence. By doing so, it delivered presents I will cherish forever. They helped me learn more about myself, those I love and the places I adore; nothing could be more important to me.
Be good to each other,