Friday, September 14, 2012

Students hike Mt. Rainier with Campus Ministry

By Camille Adams, Guest Writer
Nearly 80 Pacific Lutheran University students and faculty trekked up Mt. Rainier Sunday, continuing a long-standing tradition.

President Thomas Krise participated in the hike along with his wife Patricia. "This is glorious," Thomas Krise said. "We couldn’t have had a better day up here to keep the tradition alive."

The tradition began in 1896 when the PLU band climbed to Camp Muir with their instruments to celebrate the construction of the new school.

The hike only became a yearly event, however, when Rev. Nancy Connor and Rev. Dennis Sepper came to PLU. For the past 18 years, Campus Ministry has taken students up to Mt. Rainier every fall. Campus Ministry covers all costs, including transportation and entrance fees.

The trip attracts many first years and international students. This year’s turn-out was the best in years, Connor said. The group filled a school bus and two campus ministry vans.

The group drove nearly two hours to reach Paradise National Park where the hike began. Two miles of steep incline followed, leading to Panorama Point.

"I almost thought about not coming, but I’m glad I did," senior Lina Aas-Helseth said.

"This is the best weather we’ve had in the past four years," Connor said. Rain prevented the group from reaching the top during the 2010 hike, Conner said. They were forced to stop at Camp Muir, a quarter of the length of Sunday’s hike.

Sights along the way included views of valleys, waterfalls, rivers and the occasional marmot sunning itself on a rock.

Students were cheered on by Campus Ministry staff as they completed the last leg of the journey up to Panorama Point. The hikers were then allowed time to rest and eat snacks and sandwiches provided by Campus Ministry.

At Panorama Point, Connor gathered the group together for a moment of worship. Sophomore Peter Swanson read the invocation, Psalm 121, beginning with, "I lift my eyes to the hills." Clara Eickhoff, another sophomore, led the group in a rendition of "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," the same song played by the PLU Band 116 years ago. After a group photo, the hikers dispersed down the mountain for the swifter downhill trek.

"It’s amazing to see God’s creation. I feel his presence," first-year Alice Li said after the service.