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MissQ

Camp Muir - first timer

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Hi there

 

Not sure if I should post here or in newbies section but here it is...

 

New to the area since October from Florida. Planning a overnight hike to Camp Muir in Mid-June. I am mid-20's work out 4-5 days a week and try to hike at least once a week but obviously don't have much hiking/backpacking experience coming from flat Florida. Can you give me any pointers as to what to expect from Camp Muir? I've heard everything from 'it's easy don't worry' to 'you really have to work for it' My biggest fears are weather conditions and how I will react to the altitude.

 

Am I totally offbase by thinking it is equivalent to Mt. Si with an altitude adjustment? Seems like the same distance w/ same elevation gain.

 

Thanks for any advice you can provide!!

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The hike to Muir is not much like Mt. Si. On Si you have a maintained trail to follow whereas on the way to Muir you have at best a good boot pack and at worst new or wind blown snow obscuring any tracks at all. Add to that the consequences of wandering off of the Muir snowfield and on to one of the adjacent glaciers and it is a much more serious endeavor. The altitude as you noted is a significant difference as well. You never know how your body will react, but if you drink plenty of fluids you should be fine. That all being said I totally think that you should go for it. Pick a weekend when the weather is nice, make sure that you are confident in your navigational skills and you will have a great time. If you are in good shape and have the proper equipment it is a great hike. It is a good ski too, but one thing at a time. Make sure that your tent is ready for the winds that it will face. You can check the forecast winds at Muir on this website. Start early so that the snow is firm. I have not spent the night at Muir when it was not as part of a summit climb, so I am not sure what the regulations are on permits, but you should check with the ranger.

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Camp Muir was my first real introduction to mt. climbing...and all I can tell ya is it is NOTHING like Mt. Si. The views are freak'in amazing from up there! Yes...know your navigation skills and turn around at even the smallest change in weather. Hikers get stranded/lost/and injured up there in white out conditions all the time because they don't take that Mt. or that "hike" seriously enough. It is a LOT of work. Second to Climbing the actual mountain...it was the hardest thing I think I've ever done in my life. (it's not that bad now..but the first time...wow...thought I was gonna die!!) The Muir snowfield just seems like it never ends...don't give up and keep on pushing...it really does end...eventually!!

 

IT IS AMAZING up there...and by far one of my favorite training hikes!! Let me know when your thinking of heading up...I may want to tag along!!

-M

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Here is an award winning trip report about a hike up to Muir in June. *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*The recommendation for the application of McGriddle cakes is withdrawn since the Surgeon General declared them to be a health hazard. I've heard that McDonalds is doing a full recall on McGriddle cakes, so if you have them you may want to return them.

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Pick a weekend when there is a stable weather pattern both before and after the day(s) you plan to be there. Bring plenty of water and a filter (or tablets). I drink 3-4 liters round-trip. I'd recommend drinking a sports drink for part of the way up, at least. If you go on the weekend there will be lots of climbers on the trail and you should be able to find some boot track. Start early in the morning to allow for a safety margin.

 

The hike to Muir is more strenuous than Si (4700+ elevation gain in 4.3 miles compared to 3300 in 4.0 miles at an elevation that starts almost 5000 feet higher). If you are not used to hiking on snow, that will make a difference. Bring ski poles or trekking poles.

 

At any sign of the weather turning bad, turn around. If you get socked-in above Pebble Creek and don't have navigation skills, stay put and wait for the weather to improve.

 

Enjoy! bigdrink.gif

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Pick a weekend when there is a stable weather pattern both before and after the day(s) you plan to be there. Bring plenty of water and a filter (or tablets). I drink 3-4 liters round-trip. I'd recommend drinking a sports drink for part of the way up, at least. If you go on the weekend there will be lots of climbers on the trail and you should be able to find some boot track. Start early in the morning to allow for a safety margin.

 

The hike to Muir is more strenuous than Si (4700+ elevation gain in 4.3 miles compared to 3300 in 4.0 miles at an elevation that starts almost 5000 feet higher). If you are not used to hiking on snow, that will make a difference. Bring ski poles or trekking poles.

 

At any sign of the weather turning bad, turn around. If you get socked-in above Pebble Creek and don't have navigation skills, stay put and wait for the weather to improve.

 

Enjoy! bigdrink.gif

 

 

thumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gifthumbs_up.gif

 

A definite second on all that advice. For a good, safe experience with the background you note, don't even consider going if it's cloudy. No use going up there for the night if all you're gonna see is the inside of a cloud.

 

Regarding permits - while you won't need a climbing permit, you will still need a backcountry permit for tenting on the Muir Snowfield. Specifically, you'll need a cross-country overnight permit (or whatever they call it now) for the "zone" that encompasses the Snowfield. No fee, last I checked. My camping choice would be to pick a spot down by Anvil Rock, unless you want the "ambiance" (smelly/noisy) of Camp Muir.

 

Have fun!

-kurt

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Ok, I'm getting a little scared now :| I thought it was an easy to see/navigate trail and was not expecting possible snowstorms in mid-June??? I guess at this point I should also mention who I am going with: my husband who trains with me and his brother who is from Florida and doesn't exercise at all. None of us are experienced hikers but very comfortable with navigation skills. We already have a weekend picked out b/c we got a permit to camp there (thought this was a requirement?). My husband and I were thinking if people can do it as a day hike then we should have no problem having 10-12 hours to get to the top with it being an overnight trip.

 

Thanks for the very informative article and please excuse my ignorance.

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I don't think our intention's are to scare you off! it really is a fabulous climb...but I would consider it more of a climb than a hike. You are "hiking" to 10,000ft. which would be a summit climb on most of our other mts around here!!

 

The brother that doesn't exercise at all..hmm..unless he's one of those natural athlete types..who have amazing athletic abilities without even trying...I'd um...recommend he starts training!!

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Yea, we've tried to convince the brother to start training. He lived in Colorado for a short while and walked the trail to Pikes Peak so thinks this little stint is going to be cake. He doesn't know why we're not going all the way to the top so I don't think he's taking his training too seriously, but his loss if he has to cut out early.

 

I definitely consider it a climb....just didn't know if all the hardcore climbers on here would rag on me for calling it that, bad experience from other msg brds I guess smile.gif

 

Anyway, so we're planning on going on a Thursday/Friday second week in June. Think there will be an established foot track through the snow? And how much of the trail will be snow do you think? Also, as June is typically one of the dryer months here, I thought there would be a good chance of clear weather?

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If there hasn't been new snow in the last day or two, you'll probably have a boot path. Otherwise, you may have to break trail. Most of the trail will still be on snow. Depending on weather and when you leave you could get anything from postholing to hard, wind blown crust.

 

The weather will be a crap shooot. You can plan all you want, but you just never know until you see a reliable forecast, and even then it can be completely wrong. But June is as good a time as any to plan a trip to Muir.

 

Go for it. Enjoy. Know you're route, know the weather and be aware. You'll be fine. Its a fantastic place (unless some dumb ass lights up in the hut). evils3d.gif

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No intention to scare you. If the weather is clear, you will have NO issues, except for sore muscles perhaps.

 

If weather moves in, it could be a little sporty... as they say. There is a possibility of snow at that elevation every month of the year, but mid-June seems like a perfect time. Normally (not this year though) mid-June is early enough to still be looking at a pretty snowy mountain, while late enough to have a fairly good foot path up there. Rainier Mountaineering (RMI) starts guiding their summit climbs mid-May, so you should have a good trough set in when you go. BUT... any high winds and snow can wipe that out pretty quick. I've always been amazed at how fast my own foot prints go away in bad weather.

 

Glad to hear you have a reservation for the night as that area probably gets filled to their maximum quota pretty quick.

 

-kurt

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The presence of an obvious boot track will depend on the weather before you go. If it has been sunny for the last week you should be fine. If it snowed significantly on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday then you may be on your own as you will be going before the hordes descend on the weekend. I would say that the chances are good though. This website will give you the current snow depth at Paradise and give you an idea about how much of the trail will be snow free. Given the low snow year we are having there will probably be big sections of the lower portion of the trail that will be snow free, but you never know. Will you get good weather? I hope so, and there is a good chance, but there is at least an equal chance that it will be cloudy or worse. I generally say that if I didn’t go when the weather wasn’t perfect I would never get out, but I don’t think I would give that advise to you on your first trip up to Muir. The last time I was up there it was pretty cloudy and a very experienced mountaineer got lost and died. I don’t want that to happen to you.

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...we've tried to convince the brother to start training. He lived in Colorado for a short while and walked the trail to Pikes Peak so thinks this little stint is going to be cake...

 

My $0.02: if the brother doesn't change his cavalier attitude in a timely manner and get off the couch soon, leave him at home. Don't let him start out and then have to find his own way down, especially if the weather turns to shit after you dump him.

 

I have personally "assisted" several "Coloradans" off Mt. Rainier over the years. Their collective comments at their failure goes something like, "WOW! We run up and down 14-ers all day long in Colorado. I never thought it'd be like this!"

 

Not trying to scare you off, but be forewarned. It's not a hill to be trifled with, even in the middle of the summer. The brother's attitude could make for a bad day for more than just your group.

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MissQ said

I thought it was an easy to see/navigate trail and was not expecting possible snowstorms in mid-June??? I guess at this point I should also mention who I am going with: my husband who trains with me and his brother who is from Florida and doesn't exercise at all. None of us are experienced hikers

 

That doesn't paint a very good picture of your chances for a safe and successful trip. If St. Helens is open (might still be closed for eruptions) consider it as a good training day, and to assess your snow skills and fitness level. If not, take a look at Adams (Lunch Counter and back) or another snow-slog to get use to hiking in the white stuff.

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I tend to get a little over anxious so no surprise that I'm worried about the climb. I'm always the one saying 'let's play it safe and turn around' and my husband tends to be the 'no, let's go for it' type so sometimes we don't see eye to eye when a situation arises. When I'm starting to feel uncomfortable in a situation my husband thinks it's just getting exciting.

 

Anyways, SOBO, I never thought about putting other people out by having the bro turn around early, again please excuse my inexperience. I guess we'll have to reevaluate our strategy to get him to train more. Until now it's been 'We're going up w/ or w/out you!' now we'll have to say 'If we have to come down b/c you did't train we're going to kick your ass!'

 

So, this is definitely something that is do-able for people at our level...not like we need a guide or anything? And if we run into bad weather we can stay put and wait for weather to pass? Or just camp where we are? I mean, obviously if the weather forecast is calling for some humongous storm we'll call it off but otherwise we should be able to handle some bad weather as long as we use common sense and don't push our luck just to be able to make it to our destination?

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Its a fantastic place (unless some dumb ass lights up in the hut). evils3d.gif

 

blush.gif

 

MissQ,

 

For some reason, I was thinking you were tenting it. After rereading your post, perhaps I was just assuming.

 

If indeed you ARE staying in the public hut at Muir, be prepared for not getting a lot of shut eye that night. Climbers will be up at all hours, getting ready to head out. Strange smells, some organic - some not, will waft your way. Just be prepared to not have a quiet alpine experience, and you'll be OK.

 

If you are tenting it, there MAY be spots available near the hut to set up. Just don't wander too far north from the hut or you may find a hidden crack on the Cowlitz Glacier. As I noted before, my personal preference is towards the right side of the Snowfield (looking up), just above Anvil Rock.

 

Don't take offense if this comment seems dumb, but from the sounds of it, you're new to snow...

 

Take fuel to melt snow for water. You won't find any streams up there. Sorry if it sounds condescending, but I figured I'd make the comment just in case it didn't cross your mind.

 

Have fun!

-kurt

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So, this is definitely something that is do-able for people at our level...not like we need a guide or anything? And if we run into bad weather we can stay put and wait for weather to pass? Or just camp where we are? I mean, obviously if the weather forecast is calling for some humongous storm we'll call it off but otherwise we should be able to handle some bad weather as long as we use common sense and don't push our luck just to be able to make it to our destination?

 

Yup. You got it.

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Blake...I thought this would be a good climb to move to the next level as far as experience goes? You have to push beyond your comfort zone at some point in order to progress.

 

I guess I shouldn't say we aren't 'experienced hikers' we have been hiking a lot and training for this climb, but it will be the biggest hike for us to date. We have some experience hiking in snow but not much, we do plan on doing more before this trip.

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...I guess we'll have to reevaluate our strategy to get him to train more. Until now it's been 'We're going up w/ or w/out you!' now we'll have to say 'If we have to come down b/c you did't train we're going to kick your ass!'

 

This is a much improved strategy. Don't abandon him, especially an untrained n00b. Others will have to go look for him, possibly endangering themselves.

 

So, this is definitely something that is do-able for people at our level...not like we need a guide or anything? And if we run into bad weather we can stay put and wait for weather to pass? Or just camp where we are? I mean, obviously if the weather forecast is calling for some humongous storm we'll call it off but otherwise we should be able to handle some bad weather as long as we use common sense and don't push our luck just to be able to make it to our destination?

 

Right. You should not require a guide if you can read a map and know how to navigate in a white-out. Reasonably in-shape folks, exercising common sense and good judgement, and adept at map & compass (or GPS) navigation in low/zero visibility conditions, with adequate protective layers/shelter will find this a fun outing. Don't let reaching the destination be the arbiter of success or failure of your trip. The idea is to have fun and come back again. Good luck, and enjoy!

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I tend to get a little over anxious so no surprise that I'm worried about the climb. I'm always the one saying 'let's play it safe and turn around' and my husband tends to be the 'no, let's go for it' type so sometimes we don't see eye to eye when a situation arises. When I'm starting to feel uncomfortable in a situation my husband thinks it's just getting exciting.

 

Anyways, SOBO, I never thought about putting other people out by having the bro turn around early, again please excuse my inexperience. I guess we'll have to reevaluate our strategy to get him to train more. Until now it's been 'We're going up w/ or w/out you!' now we'll have to say 'If we have to come down b/c you did't train we're going to kick your ass!'

 

So, this is definitely something that is do-able for people at our level...not like we need a guide or anything? And if we run into bad weather we can stay put and wait for weather to pass? Or just camp where we are? I mean, obviously if the weather forecast is calling for some humongous storm we'll call it off but otherwise we should be able to handle some bad weather as long as we use common sense and don't push our luck just to be able to make it to our destination?

 

The first time I tried to go to Camp Muir, I went with my overweight brother. He scoffed at the route description and "get your bearings" page I printed from the web site. He did fine until Pebble Creek (7200 feet), and then his jaw dropped:

 

"I didn't expect it to be like THIS"

 

To make a long story short, he quit at 8500 feet, I went up to 9200 or so, and hit my turn around time.

 

I would advise you to set a turn around time before you even get to Paradise. Personally it takes me about 4 hours to get up to Muir. Some people here can do it much faster. I'd say you might consider 6 or 7 hours a maximum if you leave early.

Edited by KaskadskyjKozak

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Kurt,

 

You're correct in your assumptions...we are tenting it (I guess the reservations were a waste?) and I am new to snow...be as condescending as you see fit smile.gif Are there signs (natural or man-made) to warn you if you're heading too far in the wrong direction?

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Kurt,

 

You're correct in your assumptions...we are tenting it (I guess the reservations were a waste?) and I am new to snow...be as condescending as you see fit smile.gif Are there signs (natural or man-made) to warn you if you're heading too far in the wrong direction?

 

People place wands to mark their ascent. But I wouldn't advise following them blindly - you can't be sure they were going to Muir.

 

I'm not sure if the NPS Rangers wand the path (or how these wands would be differentiatable from wands placed by private parties).

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Kurt,

 

You're correct in your assumptions...we are tenting it (I guess the reservations were a waste?) and I am new to snow...be as condescending as you see fit smile.gif Are there signs (natural or man-made) to warn you if you're heading too far in the wrong direction?

 

The reservation is not a waste. You will still need it whether or not you use the hut; it's required. Wilderness area/National Park stuff and all that.

 

There are no man-made signs of any kind to warn of dangers. The natural ones are all around you. Steep cliffs that drop off to the Nisqually Glacier if you wander too far left, more stuff to fall off if you wander too far right. Hence my comments on being adept at map/compass navigation in low/zero visibility conditions. The Rangers pick up a broken body or two at least every other season because they ventured too far off the "path".

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People place wands to mark their ascent. But I wouldn't advise following them blindly - you can't be sure they were going to Muir.

 

Good advice. Be prepared to find your own way.

 

I'm not sure if the NPS Rangers wand the path (or how these wands would be differentiatable from wands placed by private parties).

 

They do, typically early in the season and usually after a heavy snowfall, if no one else does first. They typically use a small flag on the wand that sez "NPS" in magic marker, or at least they have done that in the past.

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