Mt. Rainier National Park

As I hiked through the Wonderland trail of Mt. Rainer, I reminisced about Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Last fall was the first time in my adult life that I had experienced being on a mountain. Mt. Rainier reminded me very much of my two month stay in that amazing country.  It reminded me of the painful uphills, gasping for air, and the beauty of the scenery. It felt like I was experiencing it all over again, almost like dejavu. The steep hills covered by loose rocks resembled the walls I had walked past every other day for 8 weeks. Nostalgia hit me hard. I missed Mexico.

It was when I visited Paradise that my whole perspective of Mt. Rainier changed. That is when it solidified itself as a unique experience. It was a life changing one. The beauty of this glacier covered volcano surrounded by meadows and rocky peaks almost brought me to tears. With sore legs I ascended the mountain, but in reality I was nowhere near the peak. On these trails I discovered marmots and saw my very first black bear wandering amongst the visitors.

Gorgeous Mt. Rainier

Gorgeous Mt. Rainier

I promised myself that I would return to this magnificent place.
I would have left the Pacific Northwest without knowing the beauty of Mt. Rainier if it weren’t for Lewis and Clark National Historical Park’s hospitality. LEWI hosted a youth camping trip at the Mt. Rainier Park and kindly invited me and two other EFTA interns to participate. I met the greatest young people ever on that trip. There were valiant maintenance workers and enthusiastic interpretive guides. We played card cames, made s’mores, shared stories, and huddled around the campfire during meals. Jenny, the biological technician at LEWI told me that I fit in well with this crowd even when I had only known them for a few days. It was so incredible and I give a great big thanks to NPS for allowing me to have this life changing experience. I am still as curious as ever and want to continue to travel and see knew places on this beautiful earth.

hanging around the camp fire

Hanging around the camp fire

Liliana Calderon
lcalde4@illinois.edu
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