Tag Archives: Mount Rainier

PCT Reflection – Playing Hide and Seek with Mt. Rainier

States have notable geographical landmarks.  New York has Niagara Falls.  Minnesota has 10,000 lakes.  Arizona has the Grand Canyon.  Florida has the Everglades.  And Washington has Mt. Rainier.

pink mt rainier

When my father bought a lot outside of Bremerton, Washington, he made sure that our house took full advantage of our view.   The house sat on a hill overlooking an inlet of the Puget Sound.  On a clear day, Mt. Rainier rose on the horizon like the top of giant ice cream cone.  Granted, clear weather comes at premium in Western Washington with the weeks of grey, low clouds obscuring all mountain vision.  Yet when the clouds cleared, the mountain was always there, sunlight gleaming off the multiple glaciers.   In high school and college, I remember sitting on our deck, transfixed by the magenta alpine glow on Mt. Rainier at sunset.

When I decided to do the southern section of the PCT this summer, I deliberately chose to hike from south to north for the explicit reason of hiking towards Mt. Rainier.   Though I would be hiking near Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens, and directly beneath Mt. Adams,  my heart and eyes were focused on Mt. Rainier.   And I was not disappointed.

First Glimpse of Mt. Rainier from Mt. Adams on the PCT

First Glimpse of Mt. Rainier from Mt. Adams on the PCT

As mentioned in my previous post, my first two and half days were mostly in the forest.  But on my third day, as I climbed the ridges surrounding Mt. Adams, I caught my first glimpse of Mt. Rainier.   For the next four days I played a game of hide and seek, wondering where the next view would come. There were several from Mt. Adams, but the best view of Rainier came when I entered the Goat Rocks Wilderness Area.  Though the haze and midday sun made photography difficult, I made sure my final  lunch stop included a Rainier view.

Last Day Lunch Stop

Last Day Lunch Stop

After such splendid views, I started to think again about hiking The Wonderland Trail.  Its 93 miles circumnavigates the mountain and offers many elevation challenges as one hike up and over the many ridges that radiate out from the peak.  Due to its popularity, access is limited to a kind of lottery system in reserving backcountry campsites.  But now I am convinces it would be worth the gamble.

I often use Mt. Rainier as part of guided meditation prayer that helps me stay grounded in Christ.  Also I sing a song based on Psalm 46.  “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.  In the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiest, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth – is Mt. Zion on the side of the north, the city of the great king.”  From an early age, I have associated Mt. Zion with Mt. Rainier, both places of beauty, elevation and holiness.  And I know the mountain has brought me much joy.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the holy places in our lives.

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Weather or Not to Live

Mount Rainier on a clear day

This morning waking up to warm sunshine and blue skies gave my heart a real lift.  I know that  the weather should not determine my mood, especially when one lives in Minnesota year round!   Still God created me as a physical creature that relishes sunshine and abhors long stretches of frigid, grey days.   I am not a robot who has not feelings, but a being that has passion, joy, love, pain and sorrow.

Jesus was one who embraced all of life.  He changed gallons of water into wine at a wedding feast (John 2:6-10).  He enjoyed eating at lavish meals (Luke 5:29-34).  He provided food for the hungry and healing for the sick.  Jesus was not a spiritual ascetic who rejected the simple good pleasures God give to us.  He spent some time in the wilderness, but  even more time with people in the villages and towns of Galilee, Samaria and Judea.  He came from heaven to live among us. 

Jesus gathered friends around him and enjoyed their company.  He wept when his friend Lazarus died (John 11:34).  He rejoiced when his disciples return from their short mission trip (Luke 10:21).  Jesus grew tired on his journey to Galilee (John 4:6). He became angry at the money changers in the Temple (Mark 11:15).   Jesus did not pull away from life, but showed us how to enter it completely.

Growing up in western Washington state, I remember many weeks of grey cold rain.  Though mountains surrounded us to the east and west, we did not regularly see them.   When finally the clouds lifted and Mount Rainier was visible, everyone felt a lift in emotions, a lightness of heart.  Our context had changed, and so did we.  

The vibrant life of faith in Jesus will always be lived in context, in relationship to the culture, community, family and even the weather.   We are physical creatures as well as spiritual.  Let us be passionate in our embracing the vibrant life.  

How have you experienced the Vibrant Life of Faith in Christ lately?

Holy Place of Peace

Hiking below Mt. Rainier

This morning I lead a class on prayer and one of the prayer exercises was a guided meditation, based on Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.”  One method that has helped me enter into silent meditation is to take an imaginary trip to a favorite place that emotes peace.  Many people (especially during a Minnesota winter) might choose a tropical beach with warm breezes and rhythmic surf.  Or a beautiful garden that is under a brilliant blue sky and filled with fragrant blooms.  I choose the Cowlitz Ridge near Mt. Rainier.

I hiked the ridge once, nearly forty years ago.  The week before I left for my freshman year of college, my friend Marv and I decided on one last hike together.  We picked a three-day trip along the Wonderland trail which circles Mt. Rainier.  At first we climbed the steep switchbacks up out of the dark forested river canyon.  As we near the top of the ridge we stepped out of the dark forest into brilliant sunshine and a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier.  We camped in that meadow for two nights, soaking up the beauty and wonder of that ridge.

Now whenever I want a special time of prayer, I go on an imaginary journey to that same spot.  The only difference is that I take the imaginary trip with Jesus as my guide and friend.  For many reason, I find rest, comfort, strength, hope in visualizing him there with me.  As I meditate a deep abiding peace grows up around me.  I realize that I could imagine Jesus with me in other locations, but that spot has become a very holy spot.

I sometimes wonder if I will ever make the hike back to Cowlitz Ridge.  I might, but it is not essential to my spiritual life.  The essential part remains Jesus who is my guide and source of peace and joy wherever I am.

 Has guided meditation helped you in your spiritual journey?  Where do you find God’s peace?