Sunday, July 16, 2006

Camp Muir: We did it!!!

It's still to sink in, but we completed the hike to Camp Muir! Camp Muir is base camp for Mount Rainier summit expeditions. It's at ~10,000 ft, short of 5,000 from the summit.

So, what was so difficult in this hike? Well:
  • round trip 9 miles and the elevation gained is ~5000 ft (that's about a mile); we took 10 hrs to complete it.
  • it's ~3000 ft of snow hike - so if you don't have snow shoes (and/or spikes) and hiking poles, you are doomed (read as: either you give up and return or, you come back in more than one piece!)
  • gradient is as much as 60% on most streches.
  • heavy backpacks - gotta carry all gear: compass, light, food and water, along with snow shoes - which alone weigh ~15-20 pounds.
  • very low visibility (~20 ft) when in cloud cover
  • for the final 1500 ft, air is much thinner; so you take 20-30 steps and take 3 min rest to catch your breath!
  • wind speeds of around 60 mph (few hikers turned back due to this!)
  • while returning, you can see straight down the snow cover; so if you are a little acrophobic (like I am :P), you will have a "nice" time.
It's an awesome feeling to go above the clouds and get a glimpse of the maginificient view! We started out late, and due to the wind, we didn't hope to get past Pebble Creek. But, adrenaline prompted us to give it a shot and it was totally worth it. Coming back was as much fun as going up - we resorted to snow sliding (to get down ~150-200 ft at a stretch!); only side-effect: frozen bum! :)

Great trip, overall. Highly recommended, but not for the faint hearted!


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