Thoughts and Adventures From Greenlite Heavy Industries

Friday, July 30, 2010

A Glacial Pace

My good friend Bianca is looking to climb Mt. Rainier next summer so we took a nice hike up to Glacier Basin to get a look at the Emmons Glacier route. Glacier Basin is an easy six mile round trip hike up a newly revamped trail; it’s an ideal family hike with a spectacular view at the turnaround.

Despite a bit of whining the kids did great, I mean they wouldn’t be kids if they didn’t whine a little – it does seem to be their job after all. Whenever I take Sam and Sophia for an outdoor adventure I bring along an enormous bag of candy and let them eat all they want. I figure they are burning the calories and I want them to associate the outdoors with fun and enjoyment. Hiking, biking, and paddling are hard work and the ability to enjoy one’s self while sweating is a learned trait – a trait some people never learn.

Bianca and I had a long conversation regarding the safety of her proposed endeavor. Assessing risk is not one of my strong suits as I fear fairly innocuous things while I seem to be comfortable with some seriously dangerous situations. I think this stems from a comfort with heights. Alpine rock climbing is scary and no doubt I have ample fear, but I don’t have that guy tingling paralyzing fear. My fear is more rational: you fall you die so don’t fall. On the other hand I can swim three miles in a pool but put me in a lake and the adrenaline starts pumping.

Anyway, I didn’t try to convince Bianca that climbing Mt. Rainier is safe; it isn’t, and it shouldn’t be. On the other hand, if I wanted safety I’d rather be on the Emmons Glacier than on I-90 atop my motorcycle. So it’s all relative. Bianca is adventurous and gutsy, so it didn’t take much convincing, but as we were nearing the trailhead I noticed a pair of television cameras set up on large tripods.

A short inquiry revealed that there had been a fatality on the mountain and the reporters were there to interview the two surviving members of the team (a third had already been evacuated). That didn’t do much to improve Bianca’s confidence. A deceased climber, a motorcycle on its side, a cyclist lying beside the road, these all shake me up a little bit. There but for the grace of God go I. They aren’t an excuse to stay at home, but they are a reminder to live every day to its fullest.

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