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Rainy and Rainier

‘I hope and pray it is sunny so that you can see the mountains as you guys are such outdoor enthusiasts.’ says our co-passenger who kept us company in the long flight to Seattle.

The next day, we were woken up brutally by my friend who asked us to run out to check out the sun. ‘You lucked out, its bright today. Don’t just sleep there, get going and check out the Cascade range in the horizon’.

Yes indeed! It was the prettiest sight. Just driving out of the parking lot of my brother’s apartment complex, we could witness snowcapped mountains in the distant east and violet shorter mountains all around. What a place!

Before I could say Ahhh!, it fogged up and the mountains just disappeared behind a haze of fog and clouds. ‘That’s where I believe Mount Rainier is’, said my helpful brother pointing to the white horizon. ‘It’s a wonderful sight and most of the road accidents occur because drivers can’t peel their eyes off that mountain. I nodded in agreement imagining the snowcapped volcano I had seen in some breathtaking pictures, standing alone, high above the rest at 14,409 ft.

We drove all the way to Paradise Ranger Station at 5,400 ft after which climbers go on foot to conquer the peak, a difficult feat even for the well prepared. All through the drive, we were amazed at the moss covered forest, the large ferns, the cascading waterfalls, the tall pine trees…but disappointed beyond words that we couldn’t catch a peek of the peak, which certainly did pique my interest no bounds. The fog was like the curtain that is drawn in the temple when the deity gets adorned and decorated for the puja while the starving devotees wait bated breath to catch a glimpse of their Lord.

We were not devoted enough, I guess. Climbing was sure out of question when visibility was close to zero. My brother was wishful in thinking that the day would clear up and recounted his memories of the spectacular sights when he visited last. I had to make do with the scaled down model of Mt Rainier at the Visitor’s center. The postcards made me wonder if the photographers sit all day, 365 days, waiting for the perfect moment to click. They must be the most patient photographers in the world.

I was told to come back some other time of the year and hope and pray that the day is sunny. Like the proverbial fox, we decided this mountain was not appealing enough for us to climb. The gloom outside couldn't match the one I had within.

Though we had a wonderful time in Seattle checking out the nearby Snoqualmie Falls, reconnecting with my brother, walking around the chic Seattle downtown, the regret of not seeing rainier was lurking in the back of my head.

We took off and I glanced out of the window for what may be called the ‘last ditch effort’. I should have realized…white gloom everywhere and cloudy skies galore. We shot through the clouds and reached a clearing above the fluffy clouds. Oh My God! (said very slowly in a whisper, stressing every syllable)

It had to be! The massive peak of Mt Rainier staring at me from really close quarters. I swear I could have died of sheer happiness.

Someday, I will climb Mount Rainier.

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