Camp Muir — Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011
Mount Rainier Area
As summer draws to a close in Washington it was time to go higher than we ever had, up to Camp Muir! We had been eyeing this hike all summer and now is about as good as it will get snow-wise this year so we decided to give it a go. Arriving at Paradise at 9am the crowds were already there, not tourists but the RMI and REI trucks were unloading their clients. So if you want to beat them, get there before 9. We started out on the Skyline Trail that immediately climbs a few hundred feet right out of the parking lot on a paved walkway. After a third of a mile the snow patches begin, but it’s pretty easy to find the route, just follow the signs up Skyline Trail, then to Pebble Creek. Once at Pebble Creek the snow is constant all the way up, however there is a very well defined boot path through the Muir Snowfield all the way up. After Pebble Creek is where the Stairmaster begins. Crossing over 8000ft you can really feel the air getting thinner with every breath. We took it slow and steady, stopping at rock patches to take a breather, drink water, and eat some snacks. Muir finally came into view and as others have said you can see it but it doesn’t get any closer very quickly. Between the thin air and burning legs it does take some time. Finally we arrived at Camp Muir, it was a great feeling, everyone up there was very friendly, most waiting for their chance to summit the next day. The views from this point were really incredible. The top of Rainier seemed so close, and you could see Mt Adams, St Helens, and even Mt Hood in the distance. Look carefully and the parking lot at Paradise is visible, how far we had come! By 3:45 it was time to head down. Aside from the stunning views the glissading was definitely a highlight of the trip, bring a change of clothes because you will get wet! It was a popular hike this day at least a hundred other climbers were on their way up/down the mountain. Thankfully those descending kept to the left of the trail where all the glissade chutes were, so at least the crowds were split. Once back at Pebble Creek we were back among the tourist masses and the going slowed down quite a bit. Finally back to the car a hair before 6pm, ready for some dinner and dreading the long drive home. It took us about 5.5 hours to get up and 2 hours to get down. We had microspikes, gaitors, trekking poles and plenty of water and were very glad we had brought all of these!