When I first moved to Seattle in the nineties, the mountains on both sides of the city were a part of most weekends. There was camping, hiking, exploring, cowboy coffee, and many smores. But, as the years wore on and custom jewelry projects took over my weekends (no complaints here), camping and even hiking fell off the to-do list.
That all changed when an old friend reached out asking if I'd be up to backpacking around the Wonderland Trail on Mt. Rainier in the Cascade Mountains the following summer. Though I hadn't hiked in years, and had never backpacked more than a weekend's worth of time, I replied IMMEDIATELY with a hearty "Count me in."
I surprised even myself with that response, but there was zero hesitation, and I know now why. It was just what I needed.
After several combinations of people embarked on training hikes, four of us (all women) headed out on this incredible journey.
The permitting situation was tenuous, but we lucked out with a coveted permit for what became a two week/100+ mile backpacking trip around one of the most majestic mountains in the US, and perhaps the world.
It is nearly impossible to put into words the beauty I experienced while walking around Mt. Rainier. Truly, it was the most challenging, and incredible two weeks of my life. I've spent time in over 30 countries, but this mountain is only two hours from my home. It really put in perspective the beauty of Washington State, and reinforced why I moved here so long ago.
- Here are some takeaways from the Wonderland Trail:
- One can venture to the edges of the world, but find the most satisfaction close to home.
- Where hikers saw glaciers, trees, peaks, rivers, waterfalls, and pathways, I saw jewelry (mostly rings) in the landscape. It was almost a hallucination situation.
- Women (especially these three) made this journey possible for me. I am forever grateful to them for all their wisdom, help, and support.
- When visions of rings took over my dreams on a regular basis, I decided to make some major life changes in order to bring these rings to life.
- Sustained time in nature is profoundly affecting in a positive way.
- The beauty of mushrooms along the trails was overwhelming!
- I had no idea what I was capable of, until I tried wearing one outfit for two weeks while hauling my life on my back around a mountain. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.