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Mountain brings back memories of father’s gift | Faithful Living
I spent all day Thursday in Seattle, visiting my daughter who teaches third grade at Queen Anne Elementary. Mount Rainier stood watch over the city with stunning strength and beauty, owning the landscape.
Twenty years ago, my husband Matt climbed Mount Rainier and his story is a notable chapter in our family’s history. In preparation, Matt packed in the middle of the family room so the kids, then very young, could watch. Megan asked a thousand questions while baby Daniel stepped on everyone’s legs and careened over carefully packaged food with his dad’s bulky hiking boots slipped over tiny bare feet.
Katie sat quietly, looking pensive as she peered out from under a large blue climbing helmet. I sensed her concern and my impressions were confirmed when the questions started:
“Why do you need an ice pick? Will you get cold?”
The stream of questions poured out and her demeanor improved as Matt carefully answered her inquiries.
Then came the toughest question: “How high up in the sky will you be?”
Knowing that quoting elevations would not be helpful, Matt moved to a reference he knew she could understand.
“When I reach the top, I’ll be up in the clouds.”
Suddenly her eyes brightened and she asked, “Will you bring me a cloud?”
“I’ll do that,” he replied.
Matt left before sunrise the next morning with his climbing companions and their professional guide. He carried all the right gear and had been working out, sometimes twice a day, to prepare for the climb, considered one of the most challenging in the lower 48 states.
At 2:15 a.m. on day three, my bearded climber limped through the door, exhausted but satisfied. The conditions had been windy, and 45 of the 60 climbers on the mountain that day had turned back.
Matt’s guide remained confident the weather would improve so the group pressed on, one deliberate step at a time until they reached the summit nine long hours from their starting time.
I wanted to know what it was that kept him climbing the icy slopes in the dark.
“Katie’s cloud,” he replied.
Out of the backpack came a plastic Sprite bottle, filled with hundreds of water droplets and condensation.
Back at base camp, word had spread that one of the hikers had a little girl named Katie who wanted her daddy to bring her a cloud. With so many waiting for improved weather conditions, idle climbers had a lot of spare time to nap and talk among themselves. Katie’s cloud became quite the topic.
“Are you Klope?” an Army ranger inquired of Matt shortly after he returned from Rainier’s summit. When Matt answered in the affirmative, the request then came to see Katie’s cloud. Several huddled to see the prized capture.
The huddles continued for weeks when the cloud arrived in Oak Harbor.
In due time, the condensed cloud dried up. But the memory of the entire event brings great joy when we catch site of the amazing Mount Rainier. It seems we all long for a piece of God’s handiwork. All we have to do is look around. It is His gift to us.
Joan Bay Klope may be reached at faithfulliving@