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It doesn’t always begin very pretty. The camping part. The pop-up tent doesn’t pop up in 60 seconds like it does for the lady on the video. Or in in twenty minutes. And when it’s still sagging in twenty-five and one kid is crying, sometimes you look at the thing and say, “good enough.”

But then the words, “it’s okay,” get tricky to spit out, when all the sleeping bags are accounted for and yours ain’t there, like at all. Because all you really feel like doing is kicking the dirt and crying with the kid who’s still sad about the tent.

A sleeping bag. Who forgets that?

But at least you’ve got an air mattress. And now a few borrowed blankets from the kids whose hearts were bigger than you thought. Only the air thingy that plugs into the cigarette lighter and sounds like its gunning down the rest of the campground hasn’t put a single speck of air into the mattress after six minutes. None.

Which means you really don’t have an air mattress to put your non-sleeping bag on.


One kid has found the creek.

And the other a chair.

And you look around and think maybe you could settle into this place.

We’re at Ohanapecosh Campground in Mount Rainier National Park.

The Ohanapecosh River runs through this pretty place.

And when we follow this sign…

and walk anywhere but on the path…

We come to the tiny springs themselves.

Then because there’s still sunshine and because it’s just minutes away by car, we visit the Grove of the Patriarchs.

It’s where the great granddaddies of trees still live.  And where some have leaned over to rest.

We can walk or do our own jig across the suspension bridge. But it’s across the river where the trees are waiting.

There’s just something about big trees that says, “touch me.”

“Hide in me.”

“Lean against me for a bit.”

Makes you wonder if everything and everyone isn’t just a little prettier with a bit of bark beneath them.

Even when it’s like bathing in ice cubes, the water calls to him.

And then he calls to her.

And it equals two wet bodies…

Who bring me their river treasures.

Ah. The bridge back without a soul.

Such enormity.

And beauty hidden in the woods.

They said these were the best burgers they had ever eaten.

Okay then.

How Raven camps…in a chair with a bag of books.

Silas’s method…in a chair with a stick, stabbing the fire.

Morning light.

Sun streaking through the trunks.

First hike.

On the Loop Trail headed to Silver Falls.

Voila. Silver Falls.

And the view in the other direction.

Raven all tucked into the rock.

Stopping to fuel the tanks.

The road back to Ohanapecosh.

Silas leading the way.


Afternoon exercise.

On the Snow Lake Trail now. Hoping to swim at the first of the two lakes on the trail–Bench Lake.

Mount Rainier reflected on Bench Lake.

Deep thoughts.

To get in or not to get in.

Not quite as warm as past years.

Making good on their five dollar bets to each other.

Reeling in a log.

Onward to Snow Lake. Another half mile up the trail.

Sitting on the same log here in August that my friend Mitzi and I sat on at the end of June with snow all around us.


Following the signs to Snow Lake Camp.

Crossing a few logs to get there.

Desolate place today.

Might have to do with the welcoming committee of mosquitoes.

Looking down onto Snow Lake.

Contemplating a private business meeting.

Just enough light.

Eating real camping food from a bag. For breakfast.

Heading in the direction of a shower. And cell service. And a bed less close to the ground.

Heading home.


2 Responses to “Camping in Mount Rainier National Park–Ohanapecosh”

  1. Jackie says:

    Wonderful adventure. You tell it so we all feel like we were there with you. Such amazing memories for all of you. Sleeping bag or no, looks like it was fun.

  2. Norma says:

    I love reading your adventures, shows that you still love writing. The kids are so grown up, time sure flies. Miss you!

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