Last September, Bobbi Barnes’ partner, Lewis County Commissioner Gary Stamper, died after a long battle with COVID-19.
The two were married and lived in Mossyrock.
Her life turned upside down. As Stamper was an elected official and highly regarded community member, Barnes felt a lack of privacy in her grief.
But as a former school counselor, Barnes always told her students a metaphor: “The more tent stakes you have to drive into the ground, the less chance your tent’s going to blow off in a storm.”
In other words, the more ways you can ground yourself and find joy, the less life’s big challenges can knock you down. As a biker, hiker, backpacker, runner and writer, Barnes put her tent stakes in hobbies that nourished her physically and emotionally. On her journeys, she began bringing her adventurous 8-year-old granddaughter, Olivia.
Her favorite place to bring Olivia has been Paradise at Mount Rainier. After hiking, the two would sit by the fire at Paradise Inn and draw in their journals.
Last October, Mount Rainier Guest Services hosted a story contest where photos could be submitted in the theme “escaping the ordinary at Mount Rainier.”
Through Jan. 11, guests could submit their photos for a chance to win two nights at Paradise Inn. With her photo of Olivia inside the inn drawing in her journal after a day on the trails, Barnes won the contest.
“I think we got a lot of pity votes because it was right after Gary passed away,” she said with a chuckle. “I cared and I wanted to win the two nights at Paradise, and we did and I’m so excited.”
Since Stamper’s death, Mount Rainier has been a sanctuary for Barnes. It’s close enough to home that her granddaughter doesn’t get grumpy in the car, but it’s out of her cellphone service’s range and allows her some peace.
She and Olivia plan to use their tickets in the fall of this year.
“(Last year), we went in the fall and it was super foggy. I mean, you couldn’t see anything. But yet, if you stayed really close to the trail, you can see really cool things like marmots or creeks or the last few wildflowers,” Barnes said. “And I said it’s kind of like dealing with Gary’s death. I can’t see the future, everything was such a blur. But if you look closely in the here and now, there are bright spots and there’s something beautiful behind it. We knew Mount Rainier was right there.”