Yesterday, I drove out to Rainier with another guy I met from Microsoft, and we hiked (along with hundreds of other people) to Camp Muir which is just over 10000' elevation, approximately halfway between the visitor center (~5400') and the summit (~14400').
We started at 9:00 at the visitor center with not a cloud in the sky. The summit looks rather small and totally doable:
Even after the 9.4mi round-trip hike that included a 4.5hr ascent, the summit from Camp Muir still looked deceptively small and nearby. From the Muir Snowfield, it looks a little more menacing:
For what it's worth, Backpacker rates the Muir Snowfield one of the ten most dangerous hikes in America -- due mostly to extreme weather (which I didn't have yesterday) and the "x factor."
We took a bit of a detour on the way up to see Panorama Point, and I did take a panorama shot in which you can see Mt. St. Helens and a good portion of the Cascades.
The hike up was quite exhausting. We were able to glissade occasionally for a speedier and more fun descent. Overall, I'm less sore now (but more sunburned) than after I did Mailbox Peak.
You can see the rest of my pictures in my Camp Muir album in Picasa.