Got up at 6:30 AM, showered, last chance for 10 or 11 days. Had continental breakfast... toast & jelly, muffin, orange juice and apple. Left for airport taking Holiday Inn shuttle... arrived early, bus actually comes at 8:20 AM. We're the only hikers on the Grayline tour bus; mixed group of ages. Loquacious Brad, our encyclopedic nutty driver points out Boeing, Weyerhauser ("the tree growing company") and the mega mall. Bus takes the _long_ way... enters park from the NE corner... does not hit Sunrise at all. Many stops for quick walks. The bus stops at Paradise for 2 hour lunch. We get permits at the "flying saucer" -- one day not to our liking (will have to do x-country zone after S. Puyallup). Met Bernie Holien by chance (he was helping a lady with a twisted ankle!) He agrees to hold our duffel (fuel already given to another ranger). Bernie even offers a place to stay when done. Bus takes us to Longmire after hot dogs, chips, and soda.
Hike begins at 3:30 PM on this hot day. Steep climb to ridge, drop to river to pump water. The pump does not work! After several, progressively extensive disassemblies and reassemblies, the MSR filter works.. must have been an o-ring. The climb continued through an interesting forest. Maybe one dozen groups... day hikers early, campers later. Campsites at Devil's Dream were mostly taken. Neighbors not talkative except for two older women... taking their time. In camp at 8PM. Water was a fair distance away (down hill) and the bear pole was wimpy. Site OK.
Aaron's commentary: Good first day - fairly short and easy. Bernie's holding our extra gear was a big help - I was nervous about what we would do without him. The ranger at Paradise helping us arrange our campsites was also very helpful. Still miss Brad - at first he was slightly irritating but after a while I relaxed to him and very much enjoyed his commentary - a VAST improvement over the boring driver we had on the way back. The filter problems were a hassle and only the first of many - I very much like the MSR filter but should have tested the filter before leaving Boston, even though it had not been used much and had worked with no troubles on my last hike.
We were lucky with regard to finding someone to take our
duffel bag of extra stuff. Meeting Ranger Bernie Holien was almost miraculous
in the Paradise parking lot, especially given that he was up on the mountain
several days out of the week. A quick note on the Rangers at MRNP... they
were all very professional, but yet friendly and very helpful. Bernie went
out of his way to help us and so did other rangers (see "Aftermath") who we
had no link to (we "knew" Bernie from Rocky Mountain NP). Hats off to them
The initial climb was quite tedious and sweaty. I'm sure that both of us thought "we can't do this for ten more days!" But it got better and so did we.