Tag Archives: Mount Rainier

In the Presence of Old Friends

 

Places are some of my very best friends.

When I return to a beautiful location that I’ve connected with in the past, it feels like showing up at a dear friend’s front porch who swings open wide the door of warm hospitality, eagerly welcoming me in with genuine laughter, refreshing food and drink, palpable love.

One of these treasured friends is Mount Rainier.

 

 

I first met The Mountain as a five-year-old boy, glimpsing its snowy white broad-shouldered girth from a distance as my mom held me up to see out the kitchen window of our rental house in Washington state.

It would be decades later that I finally encountered 14,409-ft Rainier face to face, in all its shocking glory. It did not take but a single visit to form a bond, and this friendship resulted in years of wide-eyed wonder and the making of many cherished photographic portraits.

 

A summer sunset casts spectacular light on clouds above Mount Rainier at Reflection Lake

A summer sunset casts spectacular light on clouds above Mount Rainier at Reflection Lake

 

Pink and yellow monkeyflowers decorate a tributary of the Paradise River

Pink and yellow monkeyflowers decorate a tributary of the Paradise River

 

In the presence of this majestic mountain 15 years ago I met another friend. I was exploring a forest service road just west of the National Park boundary and somehow managed to navigate a Ford Taurus sedan up a sketchy dirt road and onto a platform overlooking Mount Rainier. As I set up the tripod and camera for a sunset shot, a 4WD truck clambered up this hill and pulled in next to me. The blue-eyed, blonde-haired young man with a slight Polish accent exclaimed, “How did you make it up here in that car!?”

And so began a most amazing connection with a guy who became one of my best friends ever, fellow landscape photographer Slavomir Dzieciatkowski. For a decade and a half we have journeyed together in this life, through many joys and a fair share of sorrows. We’ve grown close in the way I always imagined real brothers would.

When I moved clear across the country two years ago our friendship remained strong thanks to regular emailing, but hanging out in person has become a rare once-a-year treat. This summer we coordinated a camping and photography retreat for the two of us, joined by our very special companion, Rainier.

Driving toward our rendezvous this week, my first glimpse of The Mountain elicited a loud gasp as my heart leaped for joy to be back in the presence of this old friend. And so too when I arrived at camp, my heart leaped for joy as I embraced my old friend Slavomir.

 

 

Summer glacial melt creates a lush grotto in a rugged boulder-strewn ravine on Rainier's slopes

Summer glacial melt creates a lush grotto in a rugged boulder-strewn ravine on Rainier’s slopes

 

I spent three grand days getting reacquainted with my comrade Rainier, hiking high up on his flanks above treeline, discovering sublime compositions along the glacier-fed Paradise River he births, witnessing the spectacle of pink sunset clouds highlighting his noble presence at Reflection Lakes. All the while soaking up great conversation and photographic craft with my sidekick Slav.

One is a very special place. The other a beloved man. Both, I’m quite certain, will remain loyal companions the rest of my days on earth.

 

Swirling water and granite rock are nature's art on the Paradise River

Swirling water and granite rock are nature’s art on the Paradise River


First Things First

 

How to begin?

The idea for this blog has been percolating for some years now. Finally sitting down to attempt writing the first post, I am overwhelmed by a hundred questions banging around in my head, the nagging noise of fear, confusion, doubt, and much resistance. Then the words of a dear friend in email bring me back to what the focus is all about, and I know now how to begin…

It’s all about the glory of God.

 

Mesa Arch glows from reflected light at sunrise in Canyonlands National Park, UT

On the short hike in the dark of early morning to Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, it’s difficult to imagine the glory that awaits.  Arriving at the expansive span before sunrise, with the view of the Washer Woman formation,  the pulse quickens.  But it’s about 15 minutes after the sun has risen, when bright sunlight hitting the red rock below bounces up to set Mesa Arch’s belly glowing in fiery reflected light, that your jaw drops in awe of the spectacle you are witnessing.

 

To place myself in the path of God’s glory, have my eyes opened to it, and drink deeply of it, has become my passion and life pursuit as a Christian and photographer of the landscape. But it was not always so. Most of my years have been spent desperate to find some small glory for myself, clinging to the approval of people, striving for performance-based acceptance, and distracted by far lesser passions. In recent years my sovereign Father has been gracious to lead me into brokenness, exposing pride and idolatry within, and tearing down the facade. And then in love he has begun rebuilding the foundations of identity based on who he is and what he has done to rescue inept rebels like me through his Son Jesus Christ, and through that is stirring up an appetite for his amazing glory.

By God’s grace I hope to use the medium of this blog to share glimpses of the Creator’s handiwork that he has allowed me to capture through the art and craft of landscape photography. As the prophet Isaiah declares, “the whole earth is filled with his glory!” (Isaiah 6:3b, ESV), and my cameras can testify to this. Scriptures, writing, and other resources may be used with the photography to help magnify the greatness of our God.

Clearly a Christian audience is in mind here, with the hope of bringing encouragement to people who trust in the triune God of the Bible, but all are welcome.

 

Yellow and pink monkeyflowers decorate the Paradise River in Mount Rainier National Park, WA

High up on the flank of towering Mount Rainier in Washington state, the Paradise glacier is the source of a river bearing its name.  For a few summer days one particular August, which is more akin to springtime in this high country, the conditions combined to create a rare spectacular yellow and pink monkey flower bloom decorating the Paradise River and falls just below the glacier.

 

Each week I will endeavor to prepare a table with delicacies of the Creator’s magnificence and invite you to pull up a chair and eat and be satisfied. But any fruitfulness from these efforts will be solely up to God’s moving and working. My foundational role is simply to glorify the Lord by seeing and savoring the awesomeness of his works, then responding with gratitude and worship through the creative process of image making and writing. This is his call for me, by his enablement.

If you choose to journey along, may our souls resonate with the psalmist:

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!”  (Psalm 34:8a, ESV)


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