Mount Rainier National Park reopened Saturday morning, six days after a murder and ensuing manhunt forced visitors to evacuate the recreational area.
“It’s really important to us that the park is back open and we're reclaiming the park for all of those things that make it so important and special to people,” Kevin Bache, the park’s spokesperson, said.
But as people returned, and cars lined up at the gates to reenter the park, many still mourned the death of park ranger Margaret Anderson.
“Every time we come to the park, there’s a part of our heart that’s missing here and that’s going to be the case for a long, long time,” Bacher said.
In fact, half of the staff working Saturday were from other parks, brought in because many of the staff at Mount Rainier still can’t deal with what happened New Year’s Day.
One volunteer ranger saw Anderson just moments before she was killed.
“I was outside and she honked, smiled, waved, and I saw her turn up the hill,” Bill Marsh said.
Anderson was shot by Benjamin Colton Barnes as she attempted to stop his car at a check point. Barnes was found dead the next day in a nearby creek.
“What I know about Margaret is that all she wants is nothing but the best for this park, and that beautiful smile of hers, when I go up the road, that’s what I am going to be thinking about,” Marsh added.
In a statement, Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Ray King said the following:
“It was heartening to arrive at the park this morning and see the line of cars at the Nisqually Entrance full of people eager to enjoy their park today. We are thankful for the dozens of employees that have come here from other national parks whose assistance allowed us to reopen.”