About nine years ago now, I was given an assignment of capturing an influential person at work. Clearly a pretty open ended assignment. I had worked at Mt. Rainier National Park in many capacities, and had several ties to the community there. I had my in.
At the time though, Mt. Rainier had experienced record flooding, and the park had been closed for months for cleanup and repair work. I emailed then park superintendent Dave Uberuaga, who later became superintendent at Grand Canyon National Park. I had met the guy a few times, but by no means knew him. The opportunity he gave me though, was awesome. Before I knew it, I was in the middle of the flood damage, seeing where entire roads had been washed away, getting a personalized tour from Mr. Uberuaga. He showed me the massive amount of work that had to happen to allow visitors back in and maintain the wildness of the park.
Mt. Rainier always has and always will hold a very special place in my heart-it’s somewhere I’ve backpacked extensively, exploring numerous trails, and even completing the 100 mile wonderland trail. And this year, as the National Park system turns 100 years old, it’s more important than ever to appreciate how lucky we are to have such a system, just as it’s more important than ever to expand that conservation effort to more of the world around us.