We couldn’t do an overnight this weekend as we needed to fulfill some half day obligations on Saturday. So we opted to head out to Mount Rainier National Park to complete a well known conditioner: Camp Muir. Lots of folks use this trail because it reaches 10080ft and features 4640ft of gain in 4.5 miles. Folks also claim that it tests the hiker mentally too as the camp can be seen for almost the entire hike, but it never seems to get closer!

I was told all of this before setting out Sunday morning with Damien. It was my first time climbing to the camp and I was curious to see if it was as bad are everyone said it was. The sun was blazing when we began walking around 8am. We started with a thick layer of sunblock, glacier goggles and caps to protect ourselves. There is a fairly good stamped out trail and the snow was frozen still so we didn’t bother with snowshoe. I did put on crampons for the steep climb up the hill to Panorama Point. I liked being able to front-point. Damien didn’t bother though and did just fine.

It was a lovely clear day and the Tatoosh Range, Adams and Helens were visible as we climbed. I didn’t find that looking at Muir the whole way was a problem. I just picked smaller landmarks like rock piles to mark my progress. After Panorama Point there are only a few steep places. The rest of the gain seemed pretty gradual to me. I did end up putting on snowshoes as the sun softened the snow. It was very hot out with no breeze. That was the biggest challenge for me.

Ay 9000 ft Damien began to feel the altitude. At this point the camp seems closer than it is and there are no rock piles. I chose to mark progress with the perpendicularĀ  ski tracks along the track. I think I sped up at this point. Altitude has never bothered me though I always notice the thinner air. I just don’t feel oxygen deprived for some reason that I cannot explain.

There were a fair amount of folks on the top. A mix of AT skiier, snowshoers and hikers. We found a bit of shade and stayed there for about an hour listening to distant avalanches before heading back down. The snowshoes were great on the descent. Otherwise it would have been a posthole nightmare. There were also some glissade tracks that we used as well.


All in all a great conditioner… if only the sun wasn’t so hot!

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