Muir Snowfield 10,000ft
The atypical Wednesday started with a mad scramble for cookies. Hit green on every single stoplight and met Julie at Sierra Park n Ride. Met Dean, Dale and Gina at Southcenter, transferred to the cowpuncher van with tele gear safely stowed. We exchanged life histories and had a boring yet pleasant drive to The R park. The mountain was visible with the deep summer melt showing its toll, but also some recent fall snow creating a dramatic contrast that (my) camera could never fully capture nor (my) words adequately describe. It was beautiful and nearly hot as we synchronized altimeters at 5400 and departed from Paradise parking lot around 9:30. Julie skillfully directed the wandering adventurers up up and away on the trail to the 10000 foot Camp Muir which was to be our "summit" for this day hike. Gina led the charge up the snow as Kendall began to realize the genius of remembering to pack ski's. Dean waited on Julie to catch up, while extracting information from every human encountered on the mountain. Julie waited on Dean until all information was obtained. Simultaneously and instinctively, Dale bridged the animals and higher life-forms. As rumored, a few open crevasses were crossed goring up the normally smooth Muir snowfield. No problem, they were mostly marked, not very wide, and Gina (who I had not yet grown particularly fond of) was breaking trail.
The party arrived at Muir in stages, we calculated 3 and a half to four hours for the upward journey. We met a pair of seemingly inexperienced and ill clad hikers who did not speak English very well. They asked if we were staying the night and soon bounded back down, oddly dragging the customary bag of goodwill behind. After watching a major piece of the Beehive thunder down and spill a large late season avalanche, we ate lunch, examined the solar-seater, struggled to take the traditional "summit" pictures, then headed back down to civilization. I cleverly put on my ski's before descending, thus turning a seeming purposeless jaunt into a spiritual creation of S's (and the more than occasional question mark) for all the birds, planes, and gods to view with envy and humor.
Julie hears someone yelling down inside one of those harmless crevasses. the group gathers around the victim to access the situation and make a plan. Our experience from MOFA, crevasse rescue, and dealing with those everyday problems of social disorder really shines through the panic of the moment Dean sprints back up to Camp Muir (again) to fetch some climbers who are sure to have a rope and equipment for rescue. Julie splits for Paradise, the will to save life (and possibly meet a good looking ranger) drives her onward. The victim is a French man on ski's who fortunately is lodged on top of a constriction only 10 feet down. The bottom is much further down and we judge it is best to wait for a rope before attempting any further movement. We toss down a coat and hat since the mountaineers gave us first hand experience at the icy depths of a crevasse. Dean returns with a whole herd of climbers who have been practicing Crevasse rescue with RMI. The RMI folks obviously know what to do and proceed with ice screw anchor and a direct pull. The French man pops up with no injury (although my old but previously invincible GoreTex has a minor rip). The RMI guide dips down to fish for skier parts and recovers all but one pole. A fine rescue. We contemplate and appreciate our training a little bit more now. We also make crass remarks about the victim's lack of bountiful gratitude and general casual comments about his mishap that we believe could have been a serious life shortening event. Skiing becomes temporarily unsafe until the Frenchman clears the last crevasses so we (so painfully) carry the skies about 500 feet down to Moon Rocks and past the last probable crevasse danger. Then it is back to thigh burn and that graceful glide. OK OK ... I fell a few more times too, but it is so easy to forget the falls and just remember the turns.
Back to bare Earth and mortal walking, we are overtaken by a climber in a rush to catch up to his stolen sleeping bag and other embarrassing gear that is customarily left behind at Muir during a summit attempt. Dean gives a clinical description of the two pack dragging culprits we had unwittingly assisted at Muir. The description later proves to be sufficient for identifying and nailing those bag snatching buggers. Meanwhile we continue to philosophy about the evil world. Gina energetically bounds ahead. We meet some friends of the solo French victim and discover that he is kind of crazy (aren't we all), but Dean manages a classic speech that draws the two partners in, then hammers a scorching lesson into their ears, minds, and soles about how their crazy French friend could end up killing or seriously maiming innocent bystanders. Another wrong sufficiently addressed (and sufficient information extracted during the interrogation) we move down the mountain. Curiously, all mosquitoes are stuck and poetry fills the beautiful clean air. Rainier hangs as a work of art, wide as the eye can absorb. Clouds are wisking around the summit and we are content to be coming down.
At Paradise, Julie has it all under control, with all local end of summer clearance sales scoped, the bandits pulled over by the Real Rainier Rangers and waiting for us to drive down and ID. After scoring big at the shopping mall and another customary group picture from a very nice young at heart lady (or was that on the way up??? its getting late) we drive down to meet flashing lights, the rangers, the suspects, and the hustling climber. The climber turns out to be someone Gina had meet in another life as a cross country traveler.
The day is now truly without name. Dean inflicts serious lecture upon the suspects who we know to be guilty of the lowest form of theft. The judge can listen to the excuses, that's why they get the gavel. We all perform our civil duties and sign witness statements while some admire the firm figure and beautiful blue eyes of Ranger Jan from St. Louis. A wallet is left at the Paradise shopping mall, but of course it is effortlessly recovered as no one thinks twice about it. The forth reminder to write down our birthday from the (not nearly as attractive) ranger "in charge" puts us on the road again.
Some wonder if any punishment will ever come to the Russian culprits, some are happy that the gear was returned (except for those black panties), some are glad an old acquaintance was renewed, some wonder if we will get birthaday cards from Ranger Jan, some are happy a life was saved from the beautiful but unforgiving jaws of the mountain, and some puke. In any case, we learned a hard lesson that Scaleburgers are good for you because they have beef and not fish parts. It was a very nice to share such a day with you all.