Friday, May 2, 2014

Cascade Mountain Majesty

Colossal, silent giants looming over our village. As much as I am a part of the community, so are the Cascades. As sure that the sun will peer over the edge in the morning, the mountains will stand as a quiet comfort to the valley. These gentle giants serve as much more than protection. Their flowing slopes offer a lifestyle, a meeting place for driven skiers and boarders alike. The run off keeps our summer crops bountiful and our rivers high. These mountains offer a sanctuary for wildlife, and a home for once nomadic hippies, who seek refuge, a place to lay roots.
The Cascades: one of the major mountain ranges in North America. This range spans from British Columbia, down to the northern tip of California. At their highest peak of 4,392 m (Mount Rainier), this makes this mountain the most topographically prominent- a sight for all Washington residents to see, and a friendly welcome to those visiting as their plane glides gracefully into SEATAC. From the beautiful Bavarian village of Leavenworth, you can’t see the gentle giant Rainier, but you’re constantly reminded of the powerful, silent titans.

Our small Leavenworth community thrives because of the mountain. 45 minutes in either direction lies a ski resort: Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge. Stepping in front of a chairlift’s seat and sitting down is like signing a contract. You’re committed to making it to the top. There’s no turning back. You place your booted feet on the bar below for stability. with your skis strapped on, dangling, the added weight makes you feel uneasy. As you climb higher, the mountain’s height becomes more apparent. Your ears pop as you yawn, finally, coinciding with a grandiose sigh of relief. Butterflies twist and turn in your stomach when you can finally see the top. The moment has come to let go of the lift and slide onto the summit. Careful not to dig your tips of your skis into the powder, you lift your feet slightly and press down: you’ve made it.

When your time on the mountain is all said and done, you return home to simple pleasures. Steaming hot chocolate in the morning with your family is a daily comfort. A little sugar to get some pep in your step early on, but just the right amount of warmth to insulate your body while you shovel the driveway. When you live in the mountains, you’re isolated from the rest of the world, but no one seems to mind. When you’re an hour away from civilization, your family becomes your best friends. When the nearest grocery store is 14.4 miles away, down a treacherous dirt road, that easily ices over during the months of October through April, simplicities become necessities. Preparedness becomes survival.

The arctic winds biting at the tip of your small, red nose is a reminder that the passes are thriving. The tremendous height of the mountains remind me that I am so very small, and that the world is so large. All possibilities are endless because I still have so much to see. The mountains are a comfort. They are a reminder that I’m home, but they’re also a reminder that I have so much to see and explore. They mountains aren’t leaving. They’ll be there to gently welcome me back home when I’m ready.

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