CLOUDS REST (9,926') 4X July 30, 2005

Gaining interest from a local hiker, he wished to do this fine Yosemite peak. I had done it in a day from town, a couple decades ago, with an overweight and slow associate. I liked to see how fast I could do it again, here years later. My new companion is quite a bit younger, and seems good and fast. Wanting to treat him to continue doing peak climbs, I agreed to pick him up at his home at 5 a.m. Saturday.

He was ready, but a bit groggy. Many workers like to sleep on the weekends, but he was excited to be going to Yosemite. I expected a boring day, since I have the views on film from all my previous ascents. Little did I know that the visibility would be the clearest I have seen, and the summit stay one of the finest times I have spent atop a mountain.

We made the drive in good time, with no delays. Oakdale, CA, allowed for a fast breakfast stop, and the traffic moved quickly up CA 120. I used my new Golden Eagle Passport to enter the park, and we stopped at Olmsted Point to view our planned summit.

Getting a parking spot at Sunrise Trailhead, I was able to use the facility, and we began our hike at 9:32 a.m. I had warned of mosquitoes, but failed to apply repellent till they began landing on my bare legs. This done, we hiked up the nice trail. The trail sign indicated "7.1" miles to the top. Passing two lady hikers, we reached a junction and ridgetop. My memory from 18 years ago wasn't sharp, and I wondered which way the peak was. The trail is signed pretty well, so I had faith in the signs. I know they would be difficult to turn in the wrong direction.

We have a total dip of about 500 feet in this trail. Hiking downward is correct, for awhile. Then the trail levels, and the peak comes into view. It doesn't look anything like it does from the Tioga Pass Highway, with forests growing up near the summit. But we followed the trail, past another signed junction, and approached the peak. It looked like a round, rocky bump.

I saw our time would be pretty good, despite the heavy pack I was carrying. We summitted at 12:57 p.m., less than 3.5 hours of hiking. I was pleased we had maintained the average hikers' pace of 2 m.p.h. on uphill trail.

The view was the best I had ever remembered. I took off my pack, and knew we'd be up here a long time. I'd say maybe 50 other adventurers hiked up and by, this day, and I enjoyed the friendly and respectful attitudes. I tried not to disturb people enjoying the fantastic vistas, but I had to move about to catch a better perspective.

My pal and I shot away with our digital cameras. I think I had the best quality, but others were snapping away at the views, although not as vigorously as me. I had two memory cards, with three batteries for the day. No problem to click away. I did panorama shots, movie clips, and all sorts of stills. An hour passed, and clouds, overhead, cast shadows, changing the light. Not to brag much, but many peaks we could see I had climbed anywhere from one to several times.

Another prominent associate in the Sierra Peaks Section likes to complete his multiple list finishes on this peak. Him having done all the 247 SPS peaks some five times each, I like his taste for the culmination of these spectacular achievements.

Hikers streamed by. Many backpackers were climbing this peak. This was one of the most gorgeous days I have ever seen in the Sierra.

Then I set the time to head back. I started down at 2:45 p.m., and I figured an easy walk, mostly downhill, back to the highway. Tenaya Lake looked pretty far, but we would get there.

We could slow and relax more on the descent. I snapped a few close-up photos of the remaining flowers as a diversion, since the display was not very good. We passed a couple lakes and ponds, and crossed a few small streams. The final bit before the return required a rock hop across a wide, shallow creek, with my boots again keeping my socks dry. I stepped on some slightly submerged, shifting rocks, and guessed my clearance rack boots had some water repellency.

Back at 6:17 p.m., after a short side trip to the shores of Tenaya Lake, we made ready and drove off.

The mosquitoes weren't bad, but they did land on me, even with repellant applied. I had kept walking and brushed them off as I could, but I think I received some bites. Not worried too much about the West Nile Virus, I had seen no posted warnings by any government agency, here.

I drove quickly west on CA 120, getting a power drink at the Crane Flat gas station and store. They asked $3.00 a gallon, for regular. We chose a nice food stop back in Oakdale, me chuckling about our excellent hike. My pal was pleased, although tired. He agreed to hope to do some more peaks, although I expect the next few will be easier. Home late, I began work on my website post, after soup and more drink.

We did some 14.2 miles with 2,500 feet gain, round trip. I captured over 350 digital images and movie clips. I even had my film camera to use the last four frames on a roll. Filling up in town, I returned with almost a quarter tank (maybe 8 gallons used). The car had been driven about 365 miles, total. I spent little, and will return to Yosemite, as I can get a rider. I am now in fair condition, and hope to do some more Sierra peaks. Lots of hiking season left to hike!