Badly in need of losing weight, I had been working for a long time on my photos and movies from my last road trip. Finishing a couple weeks ago, I longed for doing more hiking, peak climbing, and camera work. I bided my time and money, with rain and inactivity dominating my days and weeks.

Due to the lower snowfall this season, I heard that Tioga Pass Highway was set to open, all the way through. Therefore an opportunity to travel, with a loop to Lake Tahoe, south down U.S. 395, to Mammoth Lakes, and then over to Yosemite Valley. I’d see all my favorite local mountains. Making plans to hit the CA 120 opening on Monday, I then felt it wasn’t the right time to do it. There is still a lot of snow in the high country, and solo peak climbing might be beyond my safety tolerances. Unaware of conditions, it might well be excessively hazardous.

Finally, I was good to go, Wednesday. I made some reservations for a short two day trip, extendable to three days. Up at a good, though relatively late hour, I managed to leave home in the morning. Getting gas at 3.999, I had a full tank.

Zooming east on U.S. 50, I stopped in Placerville, CA, for drink and a rest, then headed for the ranger station to pick up some permit forms and get the latest information. Making a quick stop at Bridalveil Falls right next to the highway, it was then to the Ice House Road, and up the hill to the turnoff for Bassi Falls trail. My directions were good, and I slowly motored up the forest dirt road, cautious about the rocks and bumps.

Reaching the trailhead, I parked my car, and prepared for the short walk. A trail leads in about ten minutes to the area of the falls. I started with photos and video, then crossed the flowing waters to get to a better vantage point. I had my tripod, but the telephotos are shaky. I did a few clips, then left for the next falls.

Motoring back to U.S. 50, I came to the Pyramid Creek Trailhead, and used the facility. I never degraded backcountry water quality on this trip. Using the envelopes, I secured my parking, and started up the trail.

Worried about aggressive dogs, I noted a total of five here this day, none leashed. All of them were behaved well enough, but there are attack dogs, and owners without control of their animals. When I see dogs coming at me, I fear for problems. Speaking with a few of the owners, none of them cared about the concerns of other hikers. Children get mauled by pit bulls, but I hope that day doesn’t come for here, or anywhere I go.

Following the side trail to the cascades, I did some videos, then hiked over to the trail up to Horsetail Falls. I found a good elevated spot to do some telephotos, and drank my water and enjoyed the views. Back to the trail, I entered the Desolation Wilderness, and hiked up the rocky footpath to the shaky logs. Flooded with water, I didn’t wish to risk getting wet feet. More dogs came by, but then I didn’t say a word. Some pools made for video, repeated from last season, and then I hiked back to the car. Maybe a dozen hikers had been seen on this trail.

Off to South Lake Tahoe, I enjoyed the light traffic. I came to my motel, and as last year, they insisted on a hidden tax to be paid, more than the stated amount to be billed. I had to have some words, then figured to go home. It’s upsetting to me to be faced with a higher rate than was said on making a reservation. Deceptive. I had no dining plans for the area, and it was still in the afternoon.

I took CA 89 north, and went to the Eagle Falls trailhead, parking along the highway versus the fee parking, at one time, if not now. They have built a short trail that I took northward on the east side of the road, and I found the rocky route to my vantage point of Lower Eagle Falls. I set up my tripod and did some video. It was late afternoon, so the falls were in shadow, but I enjoyed the moment. Back to another view of the falls at its top, other tourists were doing their pictures. I had heard that this is the most dangerous area for people, since many come here to view the falls, and I can see how they get hurt. Steep, rocky, and no handrails or developed viewpoints.

Making another stop back at Inspiration Point, I gained the gorgeous sights of Emerald Bay. A much safer spot to enjoy, although you cannot see the majestic falls from here.

Time to head home, I took 89 south back to U.S. 50, and headed west. Plenty of snow on the peaks. I had it in mind to climb Ralston Peak for my 29X, but there was snow up high, and I am aging and slowing. Stopping at the trailhead, I decided to give the trail a try. It was about 7 p.m., with an hour’s daylight left. I'd hike up by the clock. Taking my heavy pack, I started up the gravel road. There were permit forms in the box, and now a primitive parking spot by the trail signs.

Taking the trail up, I came to several fallen trees, and easily stepped over them. I was doing fairly well. I enjoyed the climb up, and seemed to do good time. I was solo with no other cars at the parking, so I had to be careful. I envisioned making it to the wilderness boundary, but turned around where the trail descends about 50 feet loss before continuing up. I detoured to a sight of Pyramid Peak through the trees, and the forest illuminated by the setting sun. Feeling good bounding down the trail, I came back to the car in 20 minutes, and motored off. My day hiking was done.

With nothing to eat all day, I did some dining at the casino along the way home, with plenty of drink. Having been out some 14 hours, I had viewed 5 falls, and hiked maybe 5 miles with 1,100 feet of gain. Using about 6 gallons of gas in driving 259 miles round trip, I spent almost 50 dollars. I captured 308 images and movie clips (271.4 MB, 720p HD, 5:36). There were some bugs, but I didn't notice any mosquitoes. Never used any sunscreen. No wildlife of note, but some birds, lizards, and chipmunks.

With my car getting old, I have more sights to do camera work with, but my days on the big peaks may be through. I am up for a climb of Ralston again, but it will be seen how I do. I hope for losing weight and resuming my usual feeling great. It has been tough to get in shape, but many do it!