Venturing into a thick morning fog and drizzle we headed north from Portland on our way to Mt. Rainier. Within twenty minutes we had already crossed into Washington state, if you've spent any time living in Texas crossing a state border is no small task so this was a foreign experience.
After driving alongside rivers and through forests like I hadn't seen since living in New Hampshire I was already in love with the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. As we walked out of the gift shop at the entrance to the park I heard my friends yelling my name and pointing for me to turn around. I swung around and there through the clearing clouds I saw the peak of Mt. Rainier. My face lit up like a child's on Christmas morning. What stood before me was impressively massive and I probably would have been just as excited if it was visible as soon as we rolled in, but the slow reveal was the icing on the cake.
We went on a few little hikes, a couple miles here and there, and drove through the park stopping at the easy accesbile waterfalls to snap some photos and make snide comments about how nothing in Texas even comes close to what you can see from a parking lot in Washington. But what we did with the majority of our time was just sit. Even writing that sentence has me scratching my own head; "Really? You just sat? Surrounded by trails and mountains you've never stepped foot on, in a state that you'd never been to before, and you chose to sit?" But there we were hanging out under a canopy of trees, something we could have done anywhere, and yet it somehow felt like exactly what we were supposed to be doing in that moment.
The reason this was possible was because of the group of people that came together for this trip. I've camped with large groups before, but something about this weekend seemed different. I knew everyone that made the trip to Rainier; girlfriend, best friends, friends from almost a decade ago, to folks who I met my very first night in Austin. Somehow all these people getting together made this "thing" that I didn't know. These nine people created something larger than just each individual person, the group took on it's own persona and it was a truly beautiful thing to experience. Everyone brought a unique perspective and personality to the table and no one held that in, which isn't always easy to do, especially considering some of these folks were meeting each other for the first time.
Smoke from our campfire filled the air all weekend, and so did laughter. We shared jokes and ghost stories, took naps, cooked amazing meals, practiced our wood chopping skills, ate more hot dogs than anyone should ever eat, and for once didn't get in trouble with park rangers.
On our last morning in Rainier we all stood around in a circle and made toasts to our time spent under the pines. The words that stuck with me the most were those about how all these people from all these places came together to make the most memorable weekend. How sometimes there are personalities in a group that need babysitting, and how that wasn't the case at all the past few days.
If you know me at all you know that I have a real problem sitting still, it's the reason why I travel the way I do. Franticly moving from one location to another, never spending quite enough time in any one place, but always seeming to satisfying my urge to see as much as I can during my weekends or short vacations. Even when I'm "doing nothing" I always seem to be fidgeting around with something, editing photos, checking my phone, getting up to poke around my house not looking for anything in particular. It's also the reason why it's taken me four weeks to write the few paragraphs you see above. My time in Mt. Rainier was the antithesis of my standard, I did not worry about seeing or doing as much as I could, I sat still, I enjoyed. Looking back if someone asks me what we did in Rainier I would probably answer, "Nothing, and it was glorious."