Day Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park
by Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer (The Mountaineers Books)
© Dan A. Nelson & Alan L. Bauer/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.
This is a great trail and a tough climb with lots of elevation gain (5000 feet in only 4.1 miles). Due to the late spring this year the flowers were blooming and the bugs were out. Snow was slushy making it hard to find a good trail to follow and not very good for glissading. Breath taking views although a bit hazy the day we went. This is not a novice climb - the last 2 thousand feet are tough but on a sunny day well worth every heart pounding step.
This was my first hike/climb in snow. It was a clear day all the way up the trail and once at Camp Muir it was a little windy and about 38-40 degrees, but sunny. I really enjoyed this hike. It took us 2 hours and 45 minutes to ascend and 1 hour and 50 minutes to descend since we were able to glissade part of the way down. I would love to do this hike again, and hope for the wonderful weather we had today.
Hard not to merely echo what others have said. Simply spectacular. Began the day in the rain at Paradise. After hiking an hour or so, began being passed by early risers on their way back - who gave us the good news that we'd get through the clouds at 8500 feet - something to help us press on. The view back as I came through the clouds is something I'll never forget - Hood, Adams and St. Helens all poking out of the cloud bank, looking like they were right next door. Take your time to rest and enjoy the view from Camp Muir, and slide on your butt as much as possible on the way down - very fun! Also, crampons totally unnecessary, but trekking poles are a virtual must. If you're in decent shape, a visit to Camp Muir on a good weather day will be one of the best hikes you'll ever make. Note, however, to check the weather carefully - the day before we went, everyone had to turn back due to blizzard conditions...on August 6!
The trek up to Muir was the first leg of our group's summit attempt. The poor weather had changed our dates and four of our group of seven elected to wait until Saturday morning. Jimmy, Eric and I decided to brave the storm and head out from Paradise Friday morning so that we could rest on Saturday. The rangers had marked the trail plus we had our compass headings and GPS as back ups. We were carrying tents with us but as the storm wore on we were hoping for space in the public shelter. Too much of the great scenery was missed with the poor visibility as I realized later on the descent. I have to mention that I was hauling all of my gear in a great Mountainsmith pack that I won here at Trails.Com! It has become the only pack that I use for mountaineering because it weighs so much less than others and can still haul over 5,000 cubic inches of gear very comfortably. When we topped out at Muir about 2:30 PM we found plenty of room in the shelter and that it was quite comfortable compared to setting up tents in the cold wind. The shelter was still quite cold, about 36 degrees F later that night, but I was very comfortable in the Moonstone down sleeping bag that I won here at Trails.Com. Pretty amazing to win great quality gear that is useful and really works! We spent Saturday hydrating and resting for launching for the Summit at midnight. The views were tremendous as the weather cleared, with Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams all in view. I can highly recommend Camp Muir as a destination or as a high camp for a summit bid.
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