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Finally hiked Camp Muir, Mt Rainier, WA (Fri, 5-10-2013)
After 3 schedule changes going to Camp Muir due to inclement weather and other commitments, Les and I were finally able to climb up Camp Muir below Mt Rainier. Mt Rainier is one of the most extensively glaciated mountains in the continental United States. It looked so massive. If visiting Seattle, one needs to drive up to Paradise (5400 ft elev) and see the Mt Rainer (14409 ft eelv). As of 2010, 1.5 - 2 million visitors per year !!!
There are many routes to climb Mt Rainier with 3 main access points (1.Paradise, Longmire and Westside Climbing Access, 2. Mowich Lake and Carbon River Climbing Access, 3. White River Climbing Access:). One of the routes is the DC (Disappointment Cleaver) route from Paradise. The Camp Muir (named after John Muir, the father of National Park) is usually a basecamp for DC route climbing the Mt Rainier. Many leisurely hikers and non-technical climbers are able to day hike to Camp Muir and experience a 10,100 ft elev place in a day ! Be aware that it's rated as very strenuous and weather can turn bad at any time at such altitude. So, choose a nice day among a nice week.
I brought along snowshoes and traction devises, and Les skied. I only used the traction devices on the way up. It's about a half way (10100 ft) to Mt Rainier (14409 ft) and quite tough to get there with 100% snow traveling this time of year. Due to warm weather, snow was getting mush and had to do a lot of postholing. Extra caution is required when postholing due to some unexpected deeper holes. And the slopes were not quite steep or icy enough for glissading, except for one place just below the Panorama Point.
It was supposed to be close to 9 miles but got shorten to 7.6 miles due to snow route. For this 7.6 miles roundtrip, it took us 4 hours to ascend and 1.5 hours to descend. For descending, I started about 1/2 hour earlier then Les since he was skiing. I was hauling down fast and he waited only 5 minutes at the parking area. It was my first hike in the Mt Rainier area (visited Mt Rainier National Park in 11 years) except for the Mount Tahoma Trail Association (MTTA) trails. I have cross country skied or snowshoed all of the MTTA trails (Copper Creek, High Hut, Snow Bowl, & Yurt), but surprisingly have not hiked any trail in Mt Rainier area until this trip.
We were very fortunate that excellent weather streak continued only till Friday (our hiking day), then started to deteriorate with rain forecast next day on Saturday. Surprisingly, we have not had a rain drop this month. Anyhow, it was a great day for climbing up to 10,000 ft elev.
On the way up, we saw about 3 different groups ahead up us, and saw a group of about 8 climbers coming down from another route not DC route. And on the way down, I met a bunch of day hikers and some climbers going up to the Camp Muir. We left Silverdale at 0410am and returned back 1600: 6 hours of driving and 6 hours of hiking !
Looking forward to climbing Mt Rainier via Camp Muir in July (The PWC event planned and coordinated by Les).
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