Reducing my automobile emissions in keeping with good planet stewardship, I mostly occupied myself this year by walking most everywhere and doing some work on my website. Enjoying dining about town, I began to gain some weight, and looked forward to someone coming forward to team up and carpool for climbs and hikes.

Pretty much, I have seen it all and done it all for peak climbing out of Northern California, and with such generous offers on my website and the Net, if no one wants to explore and enjoy our beautiful mountains, with me, I'll save my money and time for my own climbing and hiking.

After a hiatus of more than a year since having any partner, right out of the blue, I got an e-mail offering to team up. Hiker R seeks to climb Mt. Rainier this summer for a benefit cause, so needed to do some peak hikes to get into shape. I arranged to meet near his home, and our coffee shop rendezvous went well.

We arranged for a hike Tuesday, and by e-mail we made the plans. A first short checkout hike to see how he did was in order. Cold Canyon was my choice since he had never been there. I had to caution him about my late sleeping and irregular sleep habits, and kept him informed by e-mail about any possible insomnia.

I woke up fine, early in the morning. I let him know I was up and ready to go. He was game for carpooling so I thought of a spot to leave his car, and he came by right on time and we motored over to a secret spot.

He was congenial enough, and we tried to accommodate each other as to our own habits. I wished to make sure he was comfortable and allowed for a drink and rest stop at Winters.

Getting to the trailhead, an elderly woman inquired about the hiking here. I said this was Cold Canyon, the UCD Reserve.

We started up the peak loop, and I chatted about things as I puffed up the trail. The weather was perfect, but with no clouds, I worried about my photography. I took him on the side trail to the dam overlook, and saw he had no problem with the short rock scramble. I pointed out the poison oak, which was leafing, and he asked to have a picture of it.

We had lupine, paintbrush, Indian warriors, and other small flowers. Later, on Pleasants Ridge, there were some poppies. I rested on the first bump, and remarked that I had hardly seen the air so clear, with the snowy Sierra and the Sacramento skyline so visible. We continued onward and came upon other hikers. One lady was running her dog without a leash where the rules say no dogs, but she declared herself to be in accord with presumed new rules. Though the dog barked, we didn't get bit.

It was some tedium for me to hike down the trail and steps, and someone had rearranged the pipes that I thought once serviced the old Homestead. It was hard to figure out what the preserve management was planning. I know pot growers use such plumbing, but this is too popular a hike to try to grow a secret garden!

We rested again by the Homestead, and since we felt good and it was longer days, now, we opted to do Pleasants Ridge.

We started on the good conditioner hike, and I had a cold can of iced tea for this. My companion liked the workout, as it is steep and a class 2 trail, by me. I kept up a good conversation as we climbed, and enjoyed the photo op. We did the bump 1,656', with a good view of the Central Valley, still pretty clear, and then the gain was done. I knew it took only about an hour to get back down, so we rested and savored the view.

I had a poor memory about ever being here, but decided that this was a familiar sight of the other bumps along this higher ridge.

Back at the car by about 6 p.m., we motored off and I had to get gas at 2.199 in Winters. I had some gatorade and we didn't have to make any more stops till back to our meeting spot.

Well, with no injury or incompatibility, we were good for more peak hikes.

We hiked the 6 miles and 2,700' gain once again, for me. I shot about 120 images and my camera gear worked fine, yet. We remained on speaking terms, so that was good enough for me. For some, one or two peaks was enough to stop it!

I drank two liters of fluids and wore four layers stripped down to two light layers. I had light bottoms under my pants, and I had convinced my pal to wear lightweight sneakers instead of the heavy leather mountaineering boots he had brought along.

I had expected some mud, but it was scant and avoidable. We had some gnats, but no ticks or mosquitoes. The creek ran nicely with a beam at the crossing, and lovely clear waters over the cascades and small falls, and nice bubbling pools. Only about four or five cars at the parking spots. I didn't regret waking up early and the Rainier climber was sound in his ability, as far as I could tell. Hopefully we'll be doing more peak hikes, and help save gas and get me out on my peak exercise, as we both need it!