U.S. 395 FALL COLORS AND SONORA PEAK (11,459') 5X October 11, 2003

It was time for checking the fall colors along my favorite highway, U.S. 395. I had sought to sign up for a Reno Sierra Club trip, but my several e-mails and phone calls went unanswered. I finally received a call from the group Chair, and was told she'll "look into this."

Assuming no trip was being led, by the cancellations reported with apparent high disinterest in peak climbs, I woke up early Saturday morning. The fall "peak" only comes around once a year, so I resolved to get myself going, and do the long day drive.

Taking Mormon-Emigrant Road over to Highway CA 88, I seemed to think the aspen were still mostly green. Near Caples Lake, some colors were coming up. Over Carson Pass, it began to get a bit better, but either the show hasn't yet fully arrived, or the show is pretty poor.

Happy to get gas in Minden, NV, at 1.519, I continued south on 395 all the way to Conway Summit. There, it was a mix. Some leaves were fallen, some were green, and the rest turned. Certainly nothing like the rest of the Pacific West, from the Net. I motored over to the Mono Lake Viewpoint, and snapped a few more photos.

Wanting to make this disappointing drive more worthwhile, I drove back north to CA 108, the Sonora Pass Highway. I knew one of my favorite peaks, Sonora Peak, I could quickly ascend. I didn't have my regular pack, so I improvised with my lighter day pack. I had two cans of cold soda for liquid, and my heavier jacket in case it became chilly.

Using the restroom, there, I began my climb at 12:37 p.m. The Pacific Crest Trail is well marked, and climbs nicely up the southwestern slopes of this peak. It does dip a bit, and I took the hiking in good stride. Not many fall colors are seen from this section of trail, but the volcanic crags are scenic.

After an hour of hiking, I reached the point where the use trail ascends directly up the ridge. Having a cold soda, I rested a bit. The dirt here is a bit eroded from the use trail, maybe, but it soon becomes a nicer trail, easier to follow than I remembered from my last time. I had to hold onto my cap due to the brisk wind, but I was fine in my light pullover. This was great! Sonora Peak may be my highest peak for the year!

The use trail climbs nicely along the ridge, and it goes well along the crags and false summits. Soon, it levels out, and the summit was in sight. What do you know, but a sizable group of hikers were climbing up the east slopes. Some of them made the top a few minutes before I arrived.

It was the GBG group I had been trying to join. I quickly discerned the reason I had been left out. A sick, and tired, set of looks directed themselves at my presence. I needed no words. This was another exclusion. None of them seemed too concerned that I was there, certainly not the bad words and hostility that other groups might engage in. I was able to sign in the register, and shortly leave them to their own groupings.

Snapping photos, this was one of the clearest views I remember from atop this peak. Leaving the summit at 3 p.m., I headed back down my ascent use trail. Many hikers must have used this route to make it so distinct.

Back to the PCT in 38 minutes, I rested a bit again. As I hiked down, I saw their group on the use trail. Stay away from them!

Rushing back to my car, I had thought to catch the colors, again, back at Carson Pass. I was able to drive off by 4:29 p.m. Some turned groves along CA 108 served for a few photos, then I was back to 395.

The sun was setting. I stopped in Minden for more gas, then some food and drink. Viewing the pink, high clouds in my rear view mirror, I motored expediently back home.

I hiked some 6 miles with 2,000' total gain. I shot some 235 digital images, and almost a roll of Kodachrome. My motoring totaled some 450 miles. Spending some $20, most of it was for fuel, and drink.

It was a bit disturbing that your former hiking companions regard you so lowly as to flagrantly engage in silence or deceptive fabrication. I am trying to do my bit for the planet and the environment, but apparently, hiking, climbing, and skiing to support any activities program is not the way to do it. I am well aware that the National Office seeks, sometimes, to get rid of its activities program, with its liabilities and costs. It will be a sad day when we can no longer explore, enjoy, and protect, and all, together, as so many of us once did so well!