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Camp Muir, September 26, 2006

The first new snow of the season fell the week of September 19th through the 21st, with wet and cold weather buffeting the NW and snow falling above 6,000 feet. We almost missed it. Though the weather was clear on the weekend, neither Kevin nor I was able to make it out with the crowds, but we both had Tuesday off, and the weather looked perfect.

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We met up in Puyallup, transferred the gear to my car, and drove at a leisurely pace up to Paradise, where there were still plenty of parking spots available at 11:00 AM. Hiking was perfect and almost nobody was on the mountain after Pan Point. We found some snow above Pebble Creek at about 7,600 ft. and put on the skis, following a path suggested by Amar Andalkar from the weekend, but the snow had melted enough that it didn't allow for uninterupted skinning. We took the skis off for two carries of approximately 200 and 400 yards before reaching the upper Muir snowfield and continous snow.

The fresh snow from the previous week had filled in the huge suncups from the week before, but melted out around the edges, so that the snow took on a curious look of a white and tan heifer. The fresh snow had melted to a depth of a couple of inches in most places, and made a disquieting settling noise (I'll call it "wet whoomphing") as we skinned. On the climb, it paid to stick to the fresh portions for grip when possible.

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Skiing was pretty decent as long as you stayed on the clean new snow; it reminded me of skiing slalom in my youth as we looked ahead to plot our descent, looking for patches of pure white. Perfect weather, mellow skiing and an easy hike out. We hit Whittaker's Bunkhouse on the way home for some excellent espresso, excited about the possibility of more new snow in October.

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