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A new day, fresh batteries, and am I a misanthrope?

Posted by joeabbott on May 13, 2018

Well, I returned to Mt. Rainier to hike to Camp Muir again and it was quite a day. A bit of a spoiler here but the weather was fantastic (evidenced by the awesome v-shaped sunburn I have on my neck), my SPOT appeared to perform flawlessly, and there were so many people on the mountain that most of my inner dialog involved saying rude things to them … fortunately, I keep my mouth shut a lot.

Time to take that trip along with me again!

A new day

DSCF1864DSCF1859I’ve been to Rainier 5 times in the past two months: once I was stopped at Longmire due to road closures (avalanche danger), once we had brilliant weather but only hiked to 9000’ due to time constraints, another time we hiked to 8000’ due to whiteout conditions, and twice we’ve now made it to Camp Muir. We did it in fine time and felt good, but it still takes a toll: the extra effort of hiking in mushy snow where you might post-hole (sink to your knee) in, being under a hot sun for 10 hours, and carrying a lot of weight all wear you down.

But, if you’re going to be worn down, this is the place for it!

Yesterday the weather was gorgeous and we were doing well. Tim felt it took him a while to find his stride and I struggled most of the time but we kept moving. An important part of hiking that many hours is hydration and food management … keep sipping that water and when you stop, make sure you replace those salts as well as keep the carb-train rolling; being on the mountain is no time to practice your diet! I eat like a garbage scow continually pulling in calories and have lost weight over the hiking season while making no other effort to trim down. You burn some calories on the trail!

What do I eat? Well, I have a little hip-belt pouch (had been intended to keep a one-quart water bottle but I use a hydration pouch) in which I carry a small baggie of nuts, some crackers or something crunchy, and I found something called a Stroopwafel


They’re thin, light, and pretty tasty … they have 120 calories per “wafel”: with a caramel filling it’s not a diet snack. I noticed a new product in the REI power bar selection that looks a lot like these; I’ve tried them and they were good, but at over a dollar each, I didn’t get that many. When I came across a package of three dozen for (let’s call it $7 because I’m not sure at all what I paid but that’s what I saw on the Internet), I grabbed then, toss a few into a baggie, and they’re great on the trail.

But, I’m losing track of my point … the day was so clear you could see where we were heading from the parking lot!


It looked a long way away but we had all day. Our only goal was to get there in 6 hours … not a hard goal or one we’d pain ourselves to meet, but it’s what we wanted. Time to head out!

Fresh batteries

Another issue I wanted to address on this hike was my SPOT. As I’d noted, I was having very poor performance from it; so poor, I had contacted the company and they were sending a replacement on generous financial terms. As my model was no longer manufactured, out of warranty and I didn’t have their loss\replacement program, it wouldn’t be free … but, as a customer since 2008, they offered me a new unit for quite a bit off. I accepted their offer.

But, while waiting for the new unit, I put fresh batteries into my current SPOT and tried again. Every season I replace batteries so this would be the second time replacing three lithium AAA batteries in just a few months. But it made the difference! I got dozens of locations marked!


Ultimately it just says that I had discharged batteries, and for that I’m disappointed. While I like the new technology that will be in the new model, I’m not one to replace something that’s working just fine. Looks like I’ll have a backup.

Am I a misanthrope?

We got to the Park at 8AM, not a climbers’ start time, but respectable considering it’s an hour and a half drive for us. But, upon turning into the parking lot we were stunned … dozens! hundreds of people! We ended up parking in the last row and navigated past dozens of groups of people. If you weren’t skiing, you were in the minority and I had to laugh as the trail to the top of Panorama Point looked like the classic Chilkoot Trail image during the gold rush:


And while I’m super comfortable around folks who aren’t from the States, there has to be a cultural thing where others are a lot more comfortable dogging someone else’s heels. We’re on this huge mountain and people continually marched up right behind me and settled in. I would step aside, they’d look up a bit surprised, and march on. This happened a dozen times or so! It was super-frustrating. Partially I was self-conscious about being slow, but who marches right behind someone?

A couple times I’d see the line of people and, knowing that I enjoyed being out to be with Nature and just my thoughts, I’d talk to Tim and we’d create a path across new snow where no one else was marching … and, within minutes, someone would be right on my tail! It was quite disappointing. And I also suffer from the frustration that comes when you are amid other languages and don’t understand what’s being said … it’s off-putting for me. Kinda like hearing a loud-talker on the phone when you can just hear one side of the conversation … similarly annoying. Perhaps I’m just sensitive that I can’t keep up a conversation at that altitude under that physical exertion. Regardless, the outing was less a balm than it normally is when walking along the flanks of this giant.

I will try to redeem myself a little. When we got to the parking lot I noticed a middle aged Indian man helping a very aged woman down the snow-covered, slick slope that’s the final 20’ to the lot. Seeing her concern and his care, I asked if it would be helpful to use my trekking poles and they readily accepted. I walked to the lot, sat down, and tried to regain some energy. After Tim came by and said he’d meet me at the car, I looked around for my poles … and, for a second thought the couple may have confused my offer of a loan for a gift! Then I saw they were still on the slope, slowly working their way down. It was touching and I was glad I could help. When they got to the lot, they happily returned the poles and thanked me, I told her she looked great and that would be all she needed to climb the mountain! And, with smiles and a somewhat lighter spirit, I headed to the car and toward home.


I’m working up to a summit bid in the first week in June. I’m not at the point I’d like to be, physically, but I know I can do it. It’ll just be tougher than I’d like. Heavens knows I’m putting in the time, so I’m not sure what more I should be doing. Perhaps even more time. With just three weeks left, that’s a resource I don’t believe I have, so I’ll make do with where I’m at.

In spite of the pain, discomfort, and continually go-go-going I’ve been living with, it’ll be fun to summit Rainier again. Thanks for joining me as I prepare for this journey.


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