The pictures on the website of the hotel closest to the top of Mount Rainier National Park looked so inviting, I knew this was where I wanted to hike for my Memorial Day weekend trip to Washington State. As I was driving up early Saturday morning I start to see the amount of snow piling up along the roadside, and the feeling of being hilariously ill-prepared started to sink in….

I see hikers with snowshoes and ice climbers in full winter gear heading up the mountain. I get a cup of coffee and turn right around back down the mountain.

At a lower elevation I find a more suitable hike for the clothing I have with me, and start hiking the Wonderland Trail.

I meet a nice couple from India that comment on my beard, telling me it looks well and ask how long it took me to grow. Its funny because no one ever says anything nice about it. I think about the Sikhs dastaar turban, literally meaning “the hand of God“, as well as the Kufi hat worn by many males of varying religions in Africa. The beanie I am wearing seems to be a combination of the two, and perhaps this is the reason for the warm welcome and compliment. I start to sweat as I climb in elevation.

Eventually I come to a clearing that looks to have been made from heavy rains causing the mountain to break and slide down into the small valley.

Treacherous ground. I sit in silence for a spell, watching the clouds roll and wrap themselves around the forest pines. No other sound can be heard. The stillness is frightening and calming in equal amounts.

I use only my sense of direction to get back down the mountain, choosing not to head down the same way I came. I summit the peak and eventually start to descend, like Moses from Mount Sinai, bringing back stones as well, but mine are remembrance stones on my time on the trail.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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