Molly Hashimoto has done it again! She has created a beautiful book on Mount Rainier that will appeal to all who see this mountain as the icon of our environment. I first learned about the expression “the mountain is out” during my years of trekking across 520 to my job in Bellevue. When it was sunny and the eastbound traffic slowed significantly, I soon learned the reason was that the mountain was “out!” Not shrouded in clouds, but there in all its glory!
Molly visits Mt. Rainier in all the seasons; she sees her visits as pilgrimages, “a Northwest version of El Camino de Santiago in Spain.” And Molly captures what she experiences in lovely watercolors. She visits the main areas, portraying the landscape, the flora and the fauna. She spends little time on the larger buildings, except for some small historical cabins one might otherwise overlook.
Molly feels that Rainier has restorative powers and cites Quaker Floyd Schmoe’s stay there in the 1920’s to recover from what he had experienced as a pacifist worker with refugees from the first world war. As Schmoe went on to live to the age of 105, one might give credit to these restorative powers, although he credited his good choice of ancestors!
One of my first trips to Paradise was with a friend visiting from the East Coast and I was surprised to see snow still on the ground in the summer, but on our walk, we spotted flowers poking through the snowdrifts heading toward the sun; they were avalanche lilies. Molly paints these hardy flowers and others more colorful that bloom at high elevations.
One learns about the volcanic origins of Mount Rainier and lest you think as I did, that the volcanic action was all those many years ago, she cites more recent lahar events when slurries of rocky debris and water swept violently down from the mountain to areas outside the park! The mountain lives.
I have not seen many animals there except for the chipmunks and the shy pika, but we did have a deer crash through our campsite one evening as I was preparing dinner. It happened so fast that the dog was caught without a bark! Molly, however, takes solitary hikes and has been able see the red fox, mountain goats and the hoary marmot which she faithfully reproduces in color.
She gives us a glimpse of the importance of the area to the first people who would gather for two weeks in the summer to gather the abundant blueberries to dry and store in baskets for use in the winter, reconstituting with water. The mountain goat was hunted for its coat, which provided much needed warmth during harsh winters.
My most recent Mount Rainier experience came on a plane heading home from the East Coast. My seat mate at the window had never been to the West Coast and was anxious to see Mt. Rainier; he had been assured that he would be able to see it from the plane. He kept querying about lesser peaks, and I finally said I think you will know when you see it and went back to my book. It wasn’t more than ten minutes later, when I heard him gasp and whisper Oh my god! I looked up and said “Yep, that’s it!” And put my book aside. You can never get too much of it!
This beautiful book will make a delightful holiday gift to our enthusiastic friends and relatives.