One of the best parts of being a park ranger is that I am able to witness people experiencing Mount Rainier for the very first time. I get to see the awe and amazement on visitors’ faces as they first pass under the impressive timber Mount Rainier National Park entrance sign. I witness the surprise on their faces when I tell them that there are still 19 more miles of road until they reach Paradise — “the mountain looks so close, though!” I am also able to share in their enthusiasm when I tell them about this impressive 14,410-foot mountain and its surrounding forests, rivers, and glaciers.
Everyone that comes to Mount Rainier arrives here hoping for a certain experience. As a ranger, I get to hear these amazing stories from people coming from all walks of life. I get to meet the family that is bringing their aging grandfather to the mountain to experience it “one last time.” I get to chat with the newly engaged couple after a proposal on one of Mount Rainier’s many beautiful trails. I get to witness the adrenaline and excitement of the college graduate hoping to summit Mount Rainier. I get to talk to children who are visiting a national park for the very first time. It’s hard to forget the pure joy on a child’s face as she earns her very first Junior Ranger badge.
I get to meet visitors coming all the way from China, Japan, Germany, France, and all over the world, who are here to experience the mountain’s beauty. I also get to meet hundreds of locals and Washington natives who come all throughout the year to experience the different weather and seasons on the mountain. It’s hard not to feel a sense of camaraderie with all of these visitors. It’s “our” mountain. We all experience it in different ways and we come here for different purposes, but we all create lasting memories of this place no matter how long we are here.