After spending a night at Mount Rainier National Park with my fellow IMBY teammates and supervisors, I realized that packing my snow jacket and ski pants was a great idea. For a girl that loves the heat and gets cold fairly easy, my ski outfit was definitely the way to go when the sun went down. Yes, I may have looked and sounded like a goof because I ‘swished’ every move I made from the nylon in my jacket and pants, but I don’t regret my decision of whipping those bad boys on.
If you can’t tell by now, that trip was my first time camping. I had no clue what to bring, how to cook food out in the wilderness, or even where I was going to be able to go to the bathroom. There were a lot of thoughts going through my head like, ‘What if there’s a snake?’ or ‘What if I stumble upon a bear, that’s unfortunately not Winnie the Pooh, but a real-life bear?’ I was a worry-wart; fortunately, I was surrounded by IMBYs and supervisors that knew what they were doing! This was definitely not their first rodeo.
The people I was surrounded by taught me a lot: how to pitch a tent, roll up a sleeping bag, boil water on a portable stovetop, and many more ‘second-nature’ things a camper should know. Although these actions are related to camping, the kindness and care toward a newbie in an unfamiliar environment were what remain in my mind after our trip. Being within a national park, like Mount Rainier, truly brings people together. We had to work together as a team to succeed in being safe, comfortable, and efficient in our days spent in camp. Surrounded by beautiful nature–with the ravens flying from tree to tree and squirrels pouncing on fallen trees–didn’t seem like something I would like when I first heard we were going camping. But, after the trip, I realized those little things out in the wild are precious. Where else would I hear a squirrel’s little feet running along crunchy bark? Where else could one hear a raven’s wings fluttering through the brisk air?
Removing myself from the bustling city of Seattle taught me that I love the little noises, sights, and gestures that the animals as well as my team afforded me. My team helped me explore my place within a national park with the assistance of what lives and breathes inside the national park. I felt like I belonged and cannot wait to experience another national park like Mount Rainier. I could be myself, bundled in my ski outfit, eating s’mores with a great group of people that valued my presence and the experiences I brought to the table.