Climbing Mount Rainier: Pre-Trip Thoughts and Thank-You's

"This is my body. This is my mind. And this is my heart.
They are what they are today, and I am going to do the best with what I have."
~encouraging words and a new mantra from Tali
It's 7 o'clock on a Sunday morning, and I'm wide awake. I've got a gear list in front of me with items checked off, crossed out and highlighted, the fruits of last night's labor. There's a full backpack sitting behind me and a pile of stuff still waiting to be arranged in another suitcase.

The thought of checking the backpack at the airport makes me nervous. What if the airline loses it? I have two days before we leave Bremerton for Ashford for them to find it. What if one of the buckle breaks? Dan taught me to always take the waist buckle off and carry it with me, that's the most important one to keep safe. I'll have a few extras, just in case.

Well wishes from my wonderful coworkers, amazing friends, and my beautiful family ring in my head. It's times like these when my faith in the human race is renewed. I don't know if I've ever experienced this combination of nerves and excitement in my life.

Nearing the top of Mt. Minsi on my last training day! (Patrick Gensel)
I signed up for the Women's Summit for Someone climb exactly seven months ago to the day, largely thanks to Sara telling me about it, and Brendan of Big City Mountaineers making me feel like it was possible. The thought of combining something I've always wanted to do with something I'm passionate about made perfect sense.

The first donation to my climb came from Twitter friend Mark Anbinder, who hails from my hometown, went to Cornell, and knows four of my friends, but whom I've never met. The most recent was a matching gift that Cornell swimming buddy Jessica Brookman submitted to her employer several months ago after donating herself.

Big City Mountaineers and I have received nearly 100 donations from 47 cities in 16 states and 2 countries. The donations amount to $5,128, enough to support 12 kids on their entire BCM trips. I am humbled, overwhelmed, and eternally grateful.

I board a plane for Washington tomorrow. Our gear check with RMI Expeditions is on Wednesday. Climbing school is Thursday.  We start our two-day climb to the summit of the 14,441' glacier-covered stratovolcano that is Mount Rainier on Friday. We'll climb to Camp Muir, attempt to sleep until midnight or so, then leave the comfort of camp for the summit in the dark. We'll be back to Ashford by dinnertime on Saturday, and that'll be it, at least until the next one!

Patrick and I on Mt. Minsi
Yesterday was my last weighted training hike, and thanks to good friends, I didn't do it alone. After receiving some devastating news from family in the morning, I was glad to focus on the task at hand. It was the first perfect weather training day of the summer - just under 80ยบ with no humidity. Patrick and I climbed Mount Minsi on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware Water Gap, both with weighted packs. He's awesome. I don't know too many people who'd accompany a friend on a hike and take a heavy pack for absolutely no reason other than to be supportive! It was a relatively standard sized pack for me, about 35 pounds, and we made the four mile trip in two hours. He and Aleya will be climbing Mount Washington in New Hampshire the same days we're on Rainier, and I can't wait to hear how it goes!

After refueling at the Village Farmer Bakery, Patrick left for an engagement party and I met fellow TerraMar Adventures organizer Andria and her friend Mike to climb Mount Tammany. This time, the pack stayed in the car. I am tapering, after all. Two hours later, we were back at the parking lot and en route to the Village Farmer again. Yes, the pie is just that good.

It's been a wonderful, sometimes stressful several months of preparation, and I can't believe it's finally here. I can't thank everyone enough for your support and generosity, both those who've donated and those who've spent the past weeks listening to me talk about my nerves! I know that whatever happens on the mountain, this experience has and will change me. I'll be back a week from now, and can't wait to tell everyone about it!