Going Home to Rainier

My husband and I came back to Mount Rainier this weekend. We rented the Jimmy Beech House – the same house where my dad, Dee Molenaar, celebrated his 100th birthday two years ago. It felt good to be back. I remembered Dad surrounded by his old mountaineering friends and his family as they celebrated him. He sat in that chair and slept in that bed. And he laughed and reminisced and stuck his finger in the icing of his cake right over there.

It rained on us this weekend – buckets of wet fell from the sky and dumped on us – it was GREAT! While we were inside we drank tea and watched movies and The Seahawks and sat in front of the fire in the fireplace – it was very cozy. But we also went hiking, of course, because… well, that’s what hikers do, right? We drove up to Paradise on Saturday and did a quick hike up to Alta Vista to say hi to Mom and Dad’s ashes. It stopped raining for a bit and we watched the clouds drift by in the valley below us. When we got back down to Paradise it started snowing – great windy gusts of snow blowing in our faces and whipping around us – the first snowfall of the season there. We’d started a second hike, but turned around at Myrtle Falls because of the weather.

Today we drove back up to the park, but only went as far as Longmire this time. (When we entered the park we were told by the ranger lady that there was a lot of snow at Paradise now and traction tires were recommended. I’m glad we got up there yesterday.) So we did a quick easy hike on the Trail of Shadows loop and then hiked a bit up the Wonderland Trail towards Cougar Rock Campground.

I told my husband about a hike I remembered doing years ago in my twenties – Eagle Peak – and thought maybe that was something we could do while we were at Longmire – I remembered it as fairly easy. But when we checked it out we saw it was labeled “strenuous” and was more than seven miles long with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. Which. What the heck?! I started sort of chuckling then, remembering my strong young self – and the adventures I used to have – going off by myself for a “quick hike” of some peak. I’m so glad I had those adventures! And I’m also really glad I survived them.

I didn’t mention my dad to strangers all weekend. This is kind of a big deal for me. Normally I find every opportunity to let people know I’m the daughter of a famous mountaineer and I used to work at Rainier and… and… did I mention I’ve climbed to the summit? But this weekend I kept all that a secret. I asked other people for directions. I played the part of the tourist. And it felt really good.
– Karen Molenaar Terrell

Here are some photos from this weekend…