One of my jobs as a volunteer host is to fill in at the Summit Gift Shop, high atop Mt. Constitution and across the dead-end loop from the Summit Learning Center where Elliott and I spend our weekends. The gift shop is open daily, 11–4, and is the primary way the Friends of Moran State Park (FOM) earn funds, 100% of which go to helping the park and its volunteers.
The gift shop is two-room cabin located in an old 8’ x 10’ forestry shed built–like so many of the structures in the park–by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. FOM sells a variety of souvenirs as well as chips, candy bars, and kettle corn from the building. Unlike most touristy sorts of venues that sell cheap kitsch, most of FOM’s are exclusive to the area and appropriate to a state park.
One of the best things about working in the gift shop is that I get to interact with the public–which, after a couple of days of being hermit-like in our RV and all of our nights of solitude, is a welcome relief. I like knowing where people are from, why they are here, and so forth. Perhaps that’s just another way of being snoopy, but chatting with visitors makes the day go by quickly.
The weather has been exceptionally warm (I wouldn’t go so far as to say hot, though some of the locals do) and dry, despite the little bit of drizzle we had a few days ago, and that means that we’ve had a larger number of visitors. Yesterday’s view of Mt. Baker was obscured by haze and rumors of a forest fire, but that didn’t seem to stop visitors from driving, biking, and hiking to the top.
The bicyclists are amazing, riding all the way to the top of a 4.7-mile incline from sea level to 2400 feet. Most drivers know to share the narrow two-lane road with bicyclists and are aware that a slower bicycle might be lurking around the next hairpin switchback, though we’ve seen a few drivers (and a few younger bicyclists) who seem oblivious to the dangers. Every once in a while a bicyclist takes a spill, usually while going downhill at excessive speeds (in my book, defined as over 12 mph, but I’m a chicken when it comes to high speeds on a two-wheeled vehicle).
Hikers are easily identified by footwear and sweat. Later today I plan on doing the hike to the bottom and back up again (the opposite of most hikers), so more details on that later.* Particularly impressive are the families–sometimes with kids as young as 8 or 10–who arrive at the summit still full of energy, racing each other to the top of the tower. Trail runners are particularly remarkable, as the loose stones, high roots, and fallen trees have to be taken into account. Some of them are training for the triathlon to be held here on Labor Day Weekend–and there will definitely be more about that later too.
* I hiked Mt. Constitution to Cascade Lake, bought a sorbet, and climbed back to the top by way of the Cold Springs trail–four hours, sore muscles, and a hole in my dirty, stinky socks…but I’m glad I did it.