Friday, May 22, 2009

Reminder: volunteers and groups needed to help with revegetation at Paradise

Just to keep this volunteer opportunity front-and-center, here's a reminder that we're looking for individuals and groups to help plant 56,000 plants at Paradise on the weekends of July 11-12 and 18-19. We already have a couple of groups signed up to help out, but there are still loads of plants that need to be put into the ground by someone! If you're interested, volunteers can sign up through the links on the earlier blog post; groups can contact me to make arrangements at 360-569-2211 ext. 3385 or

Bookstore Clerk needed at Sunrise

Mount Rainier National Park's natural history association, Discover Your Northwest, is looking for someone to work in the Sunrise Visitor Center for the summer. This is a full-time PAID position, but may be of interest to those who have been looking for volunteer opportunities in that part of the park as well. It would begin July 1 and continue through September 8th, with housing provided but at the employee's expense. Anyone interested in learning more can contact Sherry Paul at 360-569-2211 ext. 3320 or email her at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

SCA Safety Intern Training

As some of you may have heard, from Monday, June 15 through Saturday, June 20, Mount Rainier will be hosting the SCA's Public Safety Internship Training. While we are always so happy to have the SCA come up and work with us, what's really cool is that Park Staff and Volunteers have been invited to come attend the training. This is the training for SCA interns from all over the country, so we're pretty lucky.

A schedule for the event is available here.

Part of this training is a Wilderness First Aid certification course. This is a nationally recognized certification that covers how to handle many of the possible medical emergencies that may occur in a wilderness setting.

The WFA course is taking all day on Wednesday, June 17 and Thursday, June 18. It costs $200 a person, and there are spots for about 10 more people. If you are interested in attending this training you should contact the event organizer, Emily Poore (e-mail:, phone: 603.504.3339). [UPDATE: If you plan to attend, please contact Emily no later than JUNE 1.]

I would encourage any volunteers interested to take part, it should be an educational experience.


Nick Abel
Assistant Volunteer Coordinator

Interpetive Training UPDATE!

Many of you have been chomping at the bit to know more about the Interpretive Training program. Well wait no more, I have news.

The training is going on from Tuesday 6/2 to Saturday 6/6 and on Monday 6/8 and Tuesday 6/9 with extra sessions taking place June 10, 11, and 12.

The training is open to ALL Park Staff AND Volunteers who wish to join. It starts at 8:00 AM each day and goes till 4 or 5 PM. The entir.e event is free and features a mix of lectures by Park Staff and field trips out into the park. Most of the training will happen at Longmire.

We have a schedule available here for download, but it is still rough, and some of the items on it will be subject to change.


Keep coming back for more news as we near the training dates

Monday, May 18, 2009

CITO Pictures and Conclusion

It's Official: The Cache-In-Trash-Out event last Saturday was a huge success. More than a dozen Geocachers came and helped set-up nine platform tent, dig out a path to the accessible bathrooms, and clean and paint the accessible bathroom stall. With these tents up, housing volunteers will be that much easier in the future. This was the first big volunteer event of the summer, so it was great to see such a turnout. Just looks at the hard work and happy faces. I hear Geocachers have a term "First To Find", so in a way, they were the "First To Find" volunteering this summer.

So again, Kevin and I want to thank everyone that came out and give you a big round of applause. If you want to know more about the event and see some cool pictures you can check out this link for info and this link for photos.

So have a good week, a great Memorial Day, and come volunteer again soon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mourning the loss of Brian O'Neill

I was surprised and saddened, this morning, to find a note on our park's electronic bulletin board reporting the sudden passing of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's superintendent, Brian O'Neill. Brian died yesterday of complications following heart surgery.

Most of you who volunteer at Mount Rainier, I'm sure, have no idea who Brian O'Neill is. But his influence is huge on our volunteer program. Over his tenure at Golden Gate, Brian transformed the role of volunteers from one that was peripheral to a park ranger's daily duties into one that was central to everything they did. I heard him speak several times, and his vision was inspiring. We shouldn't figure out what we're capable of doing by ourselves and then give the leftovers to volunteers, he said; instead, we should identify every possible ways that volunteers can help us, and then organize ourselves in ways that support that. He passionately believed that working with members of the larger community, beyond the physical boundaries and paid personnel roles of the park, improved both our ability to protect the resources of the park and our ability to serve its visitors. Volunteers, he said, are our first and most important partners, and, when needed, are an army of advocates on our behalf.

Over the years, this vision infused every aspect of Golden Gate's hiring and personnel management. Supervisors were hired, in part, based on their ability and willingness to work with volunteers. Field staff were trained to work alongside volunteers. Field staff are often suspicious of volunteers, fearing that volunteers will replace them; instead, Brian promoted the field staff to leadership positions training and leading volunteers. He established partnerships with the Golden Gate Conservancy, the Garden Conservancy, and many other groups to take on vital projects and work with volunteers to solve them. I saw this philosophy in action when I visited Golden Gate a few months ago, and it was awe-inspiring to see how much work was getting done, and how effectively.

We have some challenges at Rainier that they don't have at Golden Gate, especially a population base located farther from the physical resources of the park, but we also have some of the same opportunities to develop partnerships with volunteers and volunteer groups, and the same benefits to gain from it. It is based on the Golden Gate template that we chose to work with the Student Conservation Association over the past two years not just to do flood recovery work, but to lead volunteers in doing the recovery work--a tactic that doubled the number of active volunteers in two years. It is based on the model of Golden Gate that we chose to hire volunteer coordinators this summer in four key areas of the park's operation, to enhance our capacity to include volunteers in the vital work of the park.

Our deepest condolences go to the family and friends of Brian O'Neill, and to the employees of Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Brian's legacy will be long and productive, and reaches well beyond the Golden Gates to the mountains and meadows of Mount Rainier.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Volunteer Newsletter 4.3

Hello, everyone. It’s been quite awhile since the last Newsletter was published, over two months, and a lot has happened since then. Indeed, I think we’re due for a new newsletter. Well wait no more, volunteers, I present without further ado the May 2009 Newsletter.

Longmire Campground

I want to start off by officially welcoming our new Longmire Campground hosts, Jean and Harry Millan. They have graciously volunteered their summer to act as Campground Manager for the historic Longmire Campground. The Longmire Campground is being restored specifically for the use of volunteers and the Millan’s will help organize and oversee its restoration and use this summer.

Volunteer Coordinators

We mentioned in the last newsletter a number of wonderful volunteer opportunities available. We still have open several great long term volunteer opportunities.
  • Botany Volunteer Coordinator

Your job will be to coordinate projects in the park's Natural and Cultural Resources programs! Mount Rainier is looking for an engaging and energetic individual to recruit, coordinate, train, and lead citizen volunteers to assist with projects including greenhouse management, seed collection, revegetation, and exotic species control. We are looking for someone with leadership skills and, ideally, some experience in botany. This is a unique, exciting, and brand new program. Come be an important part of our volunteer management team at Mount Rainier National Park!
  • Maintenance Volunteer Coordinator

You will recruit, coordinate, train, and lead citizen volunteers to assist with projects including back country maintenance, the rehabilitation of historic WPA-era rock walls, wilderness cleanup, spring snow shoveling, campground opening, wayside installation and removal, and restoration of the historic Longmire Campground.

Volunteer Teams

We also have a number of volunteer teams that we are hiring for the summer. These teams require a much shorter commitment of time, sometimes only a day. So even if you can’t afford to volunteer for months at a time, contact us about getting on the mailing list for one of our volunteer teams. You can contact Kevin Bacher at or if you’re interested. Teams include…

  • Citizen Science Team: Be a scientist! As a Citizen Science Team member you will conduct field surveys and research throughout the park. Tasks may include monitoring amphibian species, soundscapes, wetlands, or archaeological resources.

  • Historic Landscape Retoration Team: Help maintain and restore our beautiful WPA-era rock walls and other historic structures in the park.

  • Historic (Costumed) Interpretations: Be part of this exciting program in which volunteers in historical consumes interact with park visitors, acting out the parts of historic figures from the parks past. It'll be a blast (from the past)!

If any of these sound interesting contact Kevin Bacher or Nick Abel at or

Recent and Upcoming Events

Kevin and I attended just last Saturday the very successful Meadow Rovers Breakfast, hosted by The Mountaineers at their Tacoma clubhouse. We had a wonderful turn out, and almost as many new volunteers as we did returnees. Things are already shaping up well for the 2009 summer season.

This Saturday, May 16, a Geocaching group is coming in for their Cache-In-Trash-Out (CITO) event. They will be the first group this spring to come and help restore the Longmire campground, preparing it for the influx of volunteers these coming months. They will be helping build the platform tents that the volunteers will be staying in, digging out areas for the platforms and constructing the canvas tent assemblies.

May and Early June

May 30, 31 - WTA Glacier Basin Work Party
A Washington Trails Associates work party being help on Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31. You will help to restore the Glacier Basin trail. For more information and how to sign up go to this link.

June 2-6 – Interpretation Training
From June 2-6 we are holding an Interpretation Training event. Details and updates are being posted as they become available. A draft schedule is available here.

June 5, 6, 7 – WTA Glacier Basin Work Party
The Washington Trails Associates are holding a work party on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 5, 6 and 7. For information on the event and how to sign up go to

June 6 – National Tails Day
A variety of projects, many still to be announced, will be available for volunteers on this day. Keep checking the volunteer blog for more info.

June 13 – Trails Project by MRNPA
The Mount Rainier National Park Associates are hosting a trails project on Saturday, June 13th, for more info visit

June 27 – Meadow Rover Training
Training for Meadow Rovers will be held on Saturday, June 27. More details will be coming soon on the Rainier Volunteers blog.

Future Work

May-June: Campground opening projects for Cougar Rock, Ohanapecosh, and White River.
May-October: Maintenance and cleanup of new property adjacent to Carbon River.
June-July: Spring trail marking at Paradise and Sunrise.
June-July: Snow shoveling at Sunrise and/or Cougar Rock Campground.
June-July: Wayside exhibit installation at Paradise and Sunrise.

As you can see, we have a lot planned, and not a lot of specifics right now. Keep checking back to the Rainier Volunteer blog for current and updated information, and keep up the good work!

Till next time,

Assistant Volunteer Coordinator
Nicholas Abel

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Help plant at Paradise on July 11, 12, 18 and 19th

You know that song that goes "they paved paradise, they put up a parking lot". Well, luckily they tore down the parking lot, but now we need your help on the revegetation.

We need volunteers to help plant around 56,000 plants where the old Paradise visitors center used to be. This is a big project, and we're going to need a lot of help. We are looking for both groups and single volunteers. The planting is taking place over four dates, July 11 and 12, and July 18 and 19. Gloves are available, however, due to limited supplies we encourage you to bring you own. Knee pads are not available, but with the amount of time you will spend on your knees planting we encourage you to bring some.

I can't stress the importance of this event enough, 56,000 plants over four days is going to be tough, but with enough help, it is completely doable. So start getting your groups together now, because July will be here before we know it.

To sign up for this event, simply use these links for the days you would like to work and follow the instructions.

July 11
July 12
July 18
July 19

More information will be posted on the blog as it becomes available.

Work Calendar

Work Calendar

May 16 – Trails Project by MRNPA
Mount Rainier National Park Associates are hosting a trails project in the Carbon River Valley on Saturday, May 16. Details are posted on

May 16 – Longmire Campground WorkA local Geocaching group is coming in and donating their time to help restore the historic Longmire Campground for the exclusive use of volunteers. For information on how to join in, contact Kevin Bacher at 360-569-2211 ext. 3385.

The Washington Trails Associates
May 30, 31 – WTA Glacier Basin Work Party are holding a work party on Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and 31. For more information and how to sign up go to

June 2-6 – Interpretation Training
From June 2-6 we are holding an Interpretation Training event. Details and updates are being posted as they become available. A draft schedule is available here (PUT LINK).

June 5, 6, 7 – WTA Glacier Basin Work Party
The Washington Trails Associates are holding a work party on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 5, 6 and 7. For information on the event and how to sign up go to

June 6 – National Tails Day
A variety of projects, many still to be announced, will be available for volunteers on this day. Keep checking the volunteer blog for more info.

June 13 – Trails Project by MRNPA
The Mount Rainier National Park Associates are hosting a trails project on Saturday, June 13th, for more info visit

June 13-20 – WTA Volunteer Vacation: FULLThe Washington Trails Association is hosting a Volunteer Vacation on June 13-20. Volunteers will be working in Glacier Basin. This event is already full.

June 15-19 – SCA Public Safety Intern TrainingThe SCA is holding Public Safety training for interns from June 15-19. Continue to watch for more details on the Rainier Volunteers blog.

June 27 – Meadow Rover TrainingTraining for Meadow Rovers will be held on Saturday, June 27. More details will be coming soon on the Rainier Volunteers blog.

July 4 – Eatonville 4th of July Parade
Eatonville is holding its annually 4th of July Parade, and we need volunteers to help represent the Mount Rainier Volunteer Program. Both individuals and groups needed so come out and show that volunteer spirit. Contact Kevin Bacher or Nick Abel at or

July 11, 12, 18 and 19 – Paradise Revegetation
Come out and help us plant over 56,000 plants where the old visitor’s center used to be. The revegetation is taking place on four different days, July 11, 12, 18 and 19, so you will have plenty of chances to come and volunteer. This is a big event, and we need both the help of volunteer groups and individuals. More information can be found at this post here.

July 18 – Exotic Plant Removal
The Mount Rainier National Park Associates are holding an exotic plant removal on Saturday, July 18. Come and help restore The Mountain to its natural beauty. You can find more details at

August 2-7 – WTA Volunteer Vacation: FULL
The Washington Trails Association is hosting a Volunteer Vacation on August 2-7. Volunteers will be working in Glacier Basin. This event is already full.

August 7-9 – MRNPA Trail Project & Campout
The Mount Rainier National Park Associates is holding a Trail Work and Campout event on August 7-9. For more information check out

August 15 – Volunteer Picnic
We’re holding our annual Volunteer Picnic on Saturday, August 15 in Longmire. More information will be posted on the Rainier Volunteer blog as it becomes available.

August 15 – Shadows of the Past: Living History ProgramOn Saturday, August 15, we will be holding our Shadows of the Past Living History event in Longmire. Volunteers are needed to portray historical persons from Mount Rainiers past and to walk with lanterns on the Trail of the Shadows. Costumes will be provided. Keep checking the volunteer blog for more info.

September 12 – MRNPA Revegetation
On Saturday, September 12, the Mount Rainier National Park Associates will be holding a revegetation event. More info can be found at

September 19-26 – WTA Glacier Basin Campout: FULL
The Washington Trails Association is hosting a volunteer work party and campout at Glacier Basin on September 19-26. Volunteers will be working in Glacier Basin on trail restoration. This event is already full.

September 26 – National Public Lands DayProjects will be available on this National Publics Lands Day on September 26, so keep checking the Rainier Volunteers blog for more info.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Last Minute Reminders

Hey guys, just want to remind you of two VERY close upcoming events: the Meadow Rover Brunch on Saturday in Tacoma and the National Weather Service Weather Spotters Training on Monday at the Tahoma Woods Education Center.

The Meadow Rover Brunch is taking place this Saturday, May 9 at the Mountaineers Tacoma Branch Clubhouse. The doors open at 8:00 and food will be served by 9:30. You can find more information on the original post here.

The NWS Skywarn Weather Spotters Training is taking place on Monday, May 11 at the Tahoma Woods Education Center. It's going from 6:00 PM - 9:30 PM. The class is open to the general public, and there is still space available. More information can be found here.

So don't miss out on these two great events. I'll see ya there.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Washington Conservation Core comes to Mt. Rainier

I can see them right outside our Longmire office window, working away, toiling in the dirt and mud. Braving the rain and cold to help bring our trails back to top shape. They are the men and women of the Washington Conservation Corps, and they will be working throughout the park for the entire year. The WCC is a program run by the Washington State Department of Ecology and is staffed by Americorps members. It is a year long program, and while not falling under the umbrella of the Volunteer Program, I feel it is only appropriate to recognize the contributions of this program on the blog.

To help give you an idea of just how hard these guys (and gals) work, I took a few pictures of their work on the Trail of the Shadows, right next to Longmire.

Clockwise from the top left: Chris, Joe, Dyami, Vanessa, Kyle, Julie.

So if you see them out working, give them a thumbs up (just don't distract them like I did to get these pictures).

Friday, May 1, 2009

20 Loads

A feature article by volunteer Russ Hanbey

The moon was just emerging from its ellipse on this August morning as we gathered around the shop area of Sahale Construction along Lake Union in Seattle. It was still dark, but the crew was going about its work with quiet efficiency, readying themselves for a long day in the mountains. We piled into the oversized rig and headed out.

Blending in with early morning traffic and the rough edges of Mercer Avenue, it was hard to believe that the five men in this truck/trailer would find their way to the exposed and icy slopes of Mt. Rainier, some 100 miles away and 10,000 feet higher. Instead of down coats and climbing boots, this crew was equipped with Carharts and work boots. No need for ice axe and crampons, when shackles, tie downs and cargo nets were needed. Working man’s hard hats would be required, not climbing helmets. The job for this 14 hour day was to top off a three year reconstruction job at Camp Muir, high camp for the southern climbing routes on Mt. Rainier. The day was full of promise, only slightly tinted by the specter of impending hazardous and hard work.

Camp Muir, way station over the decades for thousands, had gotten itself a face lift. Several years of planning and months of on-the-ground work had delivered significant improvements to this rag-tag village in the sky. Instead of the noisy, messy, dank hovels that served as the public shelter, cook shack and privy, newly rebuilt structures had revitalized those spaces with rustic allure and stability.

Camp Muir has housed the adventurous and the scientific for 86 years. It is strategically placed at 10,000 feet, some 4,600 feet above Paradise Lodge yet 4,000 feet below the summit. Named after celebrated wilderness sage John Muir, this narrow ridgeline between the Nisqually and Cowlitz Glaciers provides a sanctuary for the weary on stable ground, despite being fully exposed to the elements.

The Guide Shelter was built in 1916 and is the oldest rock structure in the Park. 1921 brought the construction of the Public Shelter, then the erection of the toilet by CCC workers in1936. All were failing and in dire need of reconstruction. Along came Ellen Gage and her crew of historians at the Park. Meetings were held, planning took place and eventually Sahale Construction won the bid for the high elevation work project.

As the truck bounced its way down past Tacoma and on through the endless strip of neon and traffic lights that defines Spanaway and Parkland, the sun began to lighten the sky. The early morning chatter of working people picks up. Behind the wheel is Aaron Nelson, young, confident and seemingly ready to take on the day. Filling up the back seat are Steve Howell, Marty Walz.and Keith Jellerson. Steve and Brian are regular employees of Sahale, but Keith, who runs his own business, is just along for the day.

Seated in the middle front is Carroll Vogel. Carroll is the Principal Manager, team guidance counselor and quiet inspiration behind the bridges, trails and special back country projects that Sahale has designed, fabricated and erected in difficult landscapes throughout the country. As with most people who manage complex projects, I expect his mind is preoccupied with the many details and arrangements that have to fall into place to make this day a success. Or maybe he is replaying the previous night’s loss to the Angels or thinking about his kids.

The road winds its way out of suburban sprawl into more scenic farmsteads and intersection businesses. The trees get taller and more tightly packed and soon we are approaching the gateway cities to Mt. Rainier National Park. These small towns seem relatively prosperous despite the dramatic flooding that had closed down the Park for an historic period of time just months previously.

Along the way, we get an occasional glimpse of THE MOUNTAIN, which is cloud free and glistening. Though unspoken, the work crew appears to be elevated by this sight, since bad weather in mountainous terrain makes for a very long workday. This is building to be a pristine work day in spectacular terrain, coming near the end of a long, wet summer that is almost history.

Adding to the buzz in the cab is the upcoming opportunity to spend the day working with Anthony Reese, legendary Cascade Mountain helicopter pilot. Tony is 71, in recovery from his first serious crash in 30 years of flying last spring, and the only person that Carroll and his crew trust to fly the tricky slopes of Mt. Rainier. Multiple trips loaded with both humans and unwieldy cargo are involved and no one wants to toss the dice on a pilot they didn’t know. Tony has a reputation with all of the regional National Forests and Parks as the person of choice for smaller, complicated lifts and deliveries in and around the remote traces of the Cascades and Olympics.

The truck rounds a bend and pulls into Ricksecker Point, a closed off viewpoint several miles below Paradise. Directly in front of us is the expansive west face of Mt. Rainier which starts low and continues upward over tier after dramatic tier until the summit snowfield of Rainier trails off into the heavens. Our destination for the day is up and out of sight to southeast over Mazama Ridge and atop the Muir snowfield.

We are greeted by a man dressed in a flight helmet, orange jumpsuit and expansive smile. Rich Lietner is the Park Service ‘ground man’ for the day for their share of loads being flown back and forth to Camp Muir. Rich is a man of multiple talents, on the one hand having earned a Doctorate and on the other making himself an expert on high elevation toilets. Some of the Park’s earlier loads that day have been sealed barrels of semi-decomposed human waste. Camp Muir and the higher camp on Ingraham Flats produce a monumental amount of excrement, much of which, in previous years, worked its toxic way into down glacier watersheds. Now, most of it is collected and hauled offsite, paid for, in part, by the $40.00 climbing permit required to ascend Rainier.

Rich is the perfect person for the job. Highly competent, broadly educated, he is a jack-of –all mountain trades sort of Park Service seasonal employee. He is the kind of person that the previous administration felt compelled to eliminate and replace with task specific contractors several years previous. An outcry from Park Administrators and worker organizations thankfully nipped that in the bud before a bad idea became reality.

Pretty soon, the drone of a small helicopter increases in intensity, and approaching, off to the east, is our workhorse for the day. The four passenger Hughes 500 helicopter swoops in over the parking lot from on high, gently lays down another barrel, and flies off for its last load for the Park. Carroll’s crew holds back until the humming of the engine fades then starts setting up for their end of the work day. The plan is for Carroll, Eric, Keith and I to fly up to Muir for the day and package up the loads of left-over construction debris, leaving Brian and Steve at the parking lot to manage things as they are dropped off.

Back comes Tony 15 minutes later and gingerly sets the helicopter down as if it were a leaf off a tree in late fall. He approaches the waiting group with the type of confidence mixed with humility that people of substance exude later in life. Carroll stops the proceedings and presents Tony with a dedicated photograph acknowledging their work from the summer before. Neither man knows quite what to say, but the measured deference and affection between the two men is obvious. Since no politicians are present, the formalities are over in short order – it’s time to get down to the business at hand.

Tony gathers us all together and talks about the conventions and safety needs we’ll all have to honor when working around the machine. He semi-jokingly tells the group to treat the helicopter ‘as if it were trying to kill you’. This means to assume nothing, follow established protocols and don’t be stupid. Once said, he loads up our first human occupants and prepares to disembark. One of his biggest concerns is flying the chopper in tight spaces and thin air around Camp Muir, where there are dozens of people already gathered for their trips up and down Mt. Rainier. We’ll have to work with care and efficiency to set-up our loads safely since most of them will not be taken from the helipad but from around the reconstruction sites and groupings of people.

Depending on the helicopter’s level of fuel, we’ll have to gauge the size of our loads to about 500 pounds a carry. Each load will have to be netted up with a swivel clamp on top so that Tony can electronically release them at the parking lot below. The hazards for the pilot, and for all of us for that matter, are not only the lean air that reduces the effectiveness of the rotor blades, but unpredictable updrafts and downdrafts, intensely reflected sun off the glaciers, and ungainly loads that might throw the helicopter off balance. An extra added attraction will be rotor wash from the hovering helicopter which will kick up plumes of volcanic pumice and anything else not tied down.

Within an hour, Tony begins sweeping loads off the mountain. Each trip is called a ‘turn’ and represents a round trip. Each load is different enough that aerobatics and finesse are vital on each turn. Radio communications and hand signals keep all parties connected but in the end it is the skill of the pilot that kept the process safely flowing.

To our advantage on this day is the friendly weather at Camp Muir. It is mostly calm and surprisingly balmy. The views off in every direction are amplified by residual moisture in the air. Camp Muir itself is alive with climbing groups and guides, day hikers, Park service workers and us. In contrast, we are surrounded by absolute quiet punctuated only by the roar of the Hughes sweeping in and out every 20 minutes or so and the ‘Mountain’ itself delivering occasional salvos of rock and ice fall.

The reconstruction of three of the primary buildings at Muir is inspired. The exteriors have been rebuilt to reflect the design and look of the original buildings. Rock extrusions along the rooflines called crenellations mimic the sharp rock outcropping nearby. The exterior of each building is dressed in locally collected rock and just below roof line are cantilevered timbers that act as roof joists on the interior and ornamentation on the outside. The interiors of each building have been efficiently redesigned to maximize space, storage and insulation needs. Door frames have been moved to face warmer southern exposure and are adorned with attractive and practical iron mongery. Even tubular sky lights have been installed to lighten interiors and concrete spread on the roofs for durability and water proofing.

One trip leads to another until it is time for Tony to gas up. We fuel ourselves with lunch and enjoy the sustained silence for awhile. Off on the horizon are Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens puffing away. All of the ridgelines and watersheds that connect them are distinct on this clear day. Over our shoulder are groups of climbers snaking their way up and down the hillside, their routes clearly defined in the snowfields. We lay back as silent observers, enjoying the show.
After freighting down 20 loads and 10,000 lbs. of debris, the work day is drawing nigh. As we pull away, we are encouraged by the now more natural and uncluttered look of the place. This, of course, will be taken for granted by subsequent legions of visitors to Muir. This is as should be – come in, do the job, and leave no trace. For us, the flight down is as dreamy as this world of ice and snow. We buckle everything down and head out for our head bobbing, joke filled commute back to the city.