The Picture in my Mind
I climbed Mt. Rainier over the weekend with the Climb to Fight Breast Cancer. It was the fifth and final peak for me to climb this summer in an incredible opportunity to document the participants’ stories and their journeys up the Cascade volcanoes.
Our summit attempt on Rainier was a sunset climb and our group of 12 reached the true summit at 6:30 pm. It took us five hours to reach the highest point in Washington state and with winds gusting at 35 mph, we lingered only about 10 minutes at Columbia Crest.
On our way down, as the sun began its own descent for the day, the mountain cast its shadow, pointing into the east. I had seen instances like this on other mountains at sunrise, but not at sunset. At that moment it was the most beautiful sunset I had ever seen.
Mt. Rainier is a big mountain; it dominates the landscape at 14, 411 feet, and it is steep. We were moving fast to get through a difficult section before dark and so we were in a spot where I couldn’t pull out my camera to capture the image before me.
The shadow was there for much of our descent though. It seemed to get more brilliant as time passed and reached farther across the horizon. For most of the time I had my head down, watching my crampons dig into the crusty snow with each step I took. We crossed a ladder over a crevasse at 13,900 feet and dodged snow bridges on the steep slopes. However, each time I looked up the shadow was still there.
Soon, the pinkish, golden, light started to fade as darkness began to creep in. At the last moment that I looked up, the shadow seemed to stretch forever and rays of light shot high into the sky. And then it was gone.
I had peace and contentment in my heart and had the picture in my mind.