“Sufferfest” aka “Our first adventure as a funemployed couple”

I am a slave to my Seattleite checklist (and, well, most checklists, but this checklist, by far, is my most challenging [and exciting!] one). My friend, Kristina, made it for me after I moved to Seattle, likely in response to my incessant questioning of everyone I met, “What do I *need* to do here?” After almost 2.5 years of having this list, today, on my first day of funemployment, I crossed off #55 of 75 items: Drink a Rainier Beer at Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier. It’s in the last section, “True Seattleite”, so you know it’s good.

Or, maybe by “good”, I mean challenging. Maybe by “challenging”, I mean sufferfest. The hike up to Camp Muir is 8 miles roundtrip with 4640 feet of elevation gain. To add a level of complexity, you begin at 5440 feet and end at 10,080 feet. It’s the highest you can go on Mount Rainier without requiring a permit. Admittedly, it was one of the few items on my checklist that I was nervous about, right up there with any item involving riding a bike (but I did it!). Colin and I had talked about doing Muir for awhile but the timing never played out. Then, neither of us had jobs anymore (he left his job on June 2 and I just left mine on August 11). As I quickly learned, the thing about being unemployed is, you don’t have room for excuses (catch 22!). So, we checked the weather and made our way to Rainier National Park on Sunday afternoon.

The complete hike to and from Camp Muir took us 7.5 hours. It went a little something like this:

  • 5:30-6:30 am: Ignore the alarm.
  • 6:30-7:25 am: Breakfast/prep/Lisa thinks of potential excuses why maybe today’s not the best day and we should come back later.
  • 7:25 am: Start our hike to Camp Muir!!!
  • 7:30 am: Actually start our hike to Camp Muir after Lisa returns from the parking lot to grab her trekking poles.
  • 8:00 – 9:45 am: “Look at all these wildflowers!!”, “The sky is so blue!”, “The animals!!!” – this is the time I begin to feel excited and Colin feels relieved.
  • 10:00-11:30 am: “Stupid stupid stupid…. you knew this snowfield would never-freaking-end, but you’re not going to turn around now, are you? No. So just keep going. But, still, this is stupid.” – Lisa’s inner thoughts as the sufferfest begins.
  • 10:00-11:30 am: “She seems cranky, best to give her space and make sure she eats food.” – Colin’s likely inner thoughts – and well executed!
  • 11:30 am: Make it to Camp Muir!!! Pop a squat and crack open a Rainier beer to the cheers of “SUMMIT BEER!!” from a group nearby.
  • 12:00-12:30 pm: Leave Camp Muir, actual timing unknown.
  • 12:30-1:30 pm: Glissade as much as humanly possible. Lisa cracks up all the way down. Colin (aka Knight in Shining Armor), runs alongside the glissade path while pulling Lisa down by his ice axe when she can’t slide down by will alone.
  • 1:30-3:30 pm: Glissading opportunities cease and Colin and Lisa trek all the way down to the parking lot, much to the chagrin of Lisa’s poor knees. Sufferfest ensues.
  • 3:30 pm: Happiness all around! Feeling of accomplishment: 5 stars.

Would I do it again? My first answer is, “Hell no” but, then again, I’ve only been off my feet for 6 hours so I’m biased. HOWEVER, I can say, the views were incredible.

Rainier Sufferfest Morning
Early morning views. The fog was slightly nerve-wracking as we forgot our shells at home.
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First view of ze mountain and she’s a beaut! The clouds have cleared up nicely!
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MARMOT WATCH! I could NOT get enough of these chunky little guys.
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The elder, scraggly, Marmot, observing his vast kingdom.
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My fearless leader and motivator, rocking a Hiya shirt like it’s nobody’s business!
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Pre-snow field sufferfest. I was so naive back then.
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ALMOST THERE! Just past Colin to the right is the Muir ranger station. I almost cried. Almost.
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The view looking out from the “first come first served” bunks at Camp Muir.
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No pictures of glissading as we were racing the clouds but here’s a live look at my minor stream crossing.
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Wild flowers!! and mist, lots of mist. Coming full circle!

Author: Lisa

Over one year in van life and loving it. Hiker, rock climber, novice mountain biker, and professional napper. Official “documenter” of our time with Vaniel. Favorite podcast: Stuff You Should Know.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Christina says:

    I want a marmot!

  2. Walt Van Bibber says:

    Fantastic ! Love the view on the mountain, I love snow too!😆 Especially that slushy stuff that’s so easy to traverse!
    What a great start to your adVANtures!

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