Muir Snowfield, September 22, 2004
I e-mailed Kevin on Sunday after reading the rave reports of September pow on Rainier, asking if he was interested in going on Wednesday, as I was leaving around 6:00AM. He fired back a quick reply, saying that I'd be waiting a long time for him if I left at 6:00, since he didn't get off his 24 hour shift at the fire station until 7:30. We agreed on a meeting time of 8:30 at the world-famous Auburn SuperMall at the intersection of the 167 and the 18, and the trip was on.
Traffic was, as usual, abysmal going through Seattle, but cleared up soon after passing the now gutted Rainier/Tully's building and I made it to the Mall only a few minutes late. Kevin was in the digestive phase after downing a healthy breakfast at McD's, so we hit the road with me at the wheel and booked through the Puyallup stripmall ghetto - making good time except for a stop on the road to Paradise from Longmire where construction was blocking one lane for long periods of time.
Our hopes were high as we pulled into the Paradise lot with sporadic blue sky showing, as the forecast had predicted showers and warm temps for the day, and hit the trail, new 177 R:EX's with the Dynafit "Rennbindungen" mounted up and tucked into the pack. Not surprisingly, the weather closed in at times and visibility was marginal, but the rain held off and hey, the snow was smooth and clean in September! During the climb, we heard (2) and saw (1) huge serac falls on the Nisqually, pretty impressive.
We made it to Muir in just under 3 hours from the car, pounded some Clif Bars in the wind and cold and watched some masonry contractors fixing the hut. They told us they had been helicoptered in the day before with a bunch of food, and were staying in the hut until they finished the job, hopefully by Friday or Saturday. I wonder what the Park Service told them - "it's a really cool job in a serene location with great scenery . . ."
The ski was uneventful; the foot or more of fresh from the weekend was still mostly there, but had consolidated quite a bit with the warming temps, and there were a few icy patches as well. I kept telling myself . . . smooth, clean, soft . . . September . . . and all was well. The tame deer, marmots and chipmunks "dogged" us down the last mile of paved trail. Did I mention that luck was with us yet again? We got back to the car about 4:00PM, and about 4:15 as we headed back down the road a heavy rain started to fall!
And October is just around the corner . . .