Breaking news around the northwest is centered around the sudden and tragic shooting of Park Ranger Margaret Anderson while on duty in Mount Rainier National Park.
For their own protection, Park visitors were asked to stay put inside the Paradise Visitor Center while Law Enforcement teams tracked down the shooter.
Meanwhile, there was a group of hikers enjoying the solitude of a snow camping weekend at nearby Reflection Lakes - unaware of all the 'current events' and the danger that could have been nearby. They eventually concluded that something was going on after a number of circling airplanes came and went. The planes were followed by helicopters, coming in very low and circling the lake.
Then, the helicopter crew began trying to communicate with them through a loudspeaker - with little success.
Eventually, the communication came down to messages written on coffee cups and dropped down to the campers!
Read all about the campers side of the story (and see pics of the coffee-cup-messages) in their trip report on nwhikers.net. Here is a link.
Here is the news story.
Here is Margaret Anderson's Officer Down webpage.
I know this is a depressing post (not the way anyone plans on starting out a new year I'm sure), but I have a bit of an uplifting ending (believe it or not).
One of the blogs I follow (look for it on the left side of the blog, under 'Blogs I Follow' section) is called Toward the Mountain Top, Inch By Inch. Unrelated to the recent events described above, the author of that blog put up a post a few days ago describing her passion about serving as a Park Ranger. As all Rangers are contemplating the impact of budget cuts on their livelihood, the blog author does a fantastic job of communicating why Rangers love their jobs.
I imagine that Margaret Anderson probably had similar emotions.
Here is the link to that blog post: Reflections of (a soon to be former?) Park Ranger
Happy New Year (I guess), and Happy Hiking.
A trip report to Chuckanuts North Butte should be up in the next few days.