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Murder at Mount Rainier

Former Mt. Rainier ranger's response to the murder of Margaret Anderson

As a former ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park and also a 25+ year fire lookout for the National Forest Service, I was asked about my perspective regarding the murder of Margaret Anderson, the Park Ranger killed at Mt. Rainier. I was sickened by her death. While "working" there, if greeting visitors, replacing back country trail signs, hiking various trails, cleaning up illegal campfires, building tent platforms for back country tent sites, picking up litter can be called "work" - I think /thought it was a privilege. The best part was meeting and working with other rangers - a more dedicated crew I've never met.

Accidents go with the territory, not murder. This murder left me feeling violated, "my" glorious, beautiful, and yes, unforgiving Mountain, with its wonderful sunrises and sunsets, quiet trails, famous flower fields, glaciers, record snowfalls, howling thunder storms (once while heading up to Camp Muir I was caught by such a storm - exciting, terrifying - and yes beautiful at the same time) animals, waterfalls, avalanches, solitude, sudden weather changes, whiteouts, streams (one area I was assigned to patrol had Peter and Petunia Pika and family cavorting at the stream's origin) and extraordinary nights with stars so clear and close they can be picked off the sky.

Up at "our" National Forest (not Park) Fire Lookout we watched pink sunrises first illuminate the top of the Mountain, then move slowly downward, the pink chasing darkness back into hell, and hell overcoming the light of day in the evening. We watched lightning lash the Mountain and once saw, and heard, a large piece of hanging glacier slide down Willis Wall and smash onto the Carbon Glacier - followed some time later by a low "whoom" echoing from the surrounding hills. The most spectacular avalanche I've been privileged to witness.

Now all those experiences are somehow "wrong." That's what Margaret's murder did to me - I never met her or her family, and I'm now so far away from my experiences I probably do not know a single person there anymore, but I always had those memories, as do all of us fortunate to work there. Until Margaret's murder grayed those memories into sickness. Sickness - - -

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