MOUNT JUDAH (8,243') AND DONNER PEAK (8,019') September 15, 2013

Needing a kickstart on my peak climbing, I did some research on the current air quality in the Northern Sierra. The ranger station reported most of the smoke was gone. Looking at doing some 3,000 feet of gain on peaks that I can now do, I needed a good test. That’d be the magic number for three good ones on a potential future Southwest Fall road trip. Looking at my own peaks guide, I tried to figure out what to do.

So this Sunday, I was up at about 5 a.m. I had various plans, and I’d see how I felt. Heading up Interstate 80 eastbound, I had breakfast in Auburn. Not able to secure any partner at all, I had to do this solo. No bad weather was forecast for today. I had my heavy pack, determined to be secure. I made one more stop at the Soda Springs exit for drink, and to use the restroom one last time.

Following my directions to the PCT south trailhead by the Old Donner Summit, I found the road to the parking was now all paved, and there was even a porta potty. Making sure that I wouldn’t pollute today, I started on my way at about 9:20 a.m.

The new trailwork from a few years ago was all now completed. It is still rocky, but not as bad as before. I took lots of photos for a record. There had been some fall colors in the shrubbery right by the trail start. I soon started running into other hikers. I always deferred to others approaching, as I am enabled to step off the trail, even onto precarious positions. There were a lot of big dogs today, and only a few of them were even leashed. No vicious pit bulls, thankfully, but some of those dogs were growling.

My initial thought was to climb Tinker Knob. Being pretty overweight and slow, I decided to call it, at about the Sugar Bowl run off Mt. Judah. I went to Roller Pass and sat on a rock, drinking water, and enjoying the view. The Mt. Judah Loop would do it for today. The weather was nice, but it was a bit breezy. I had my hoody and jeans.

Going about 100 yards back north to the south end of the Mt. Judah Loop on the PCT, I started up the final hill. Some hikers were already coming down. I quickly topped out with another hiker sitting there, out of the wind. I started with my camera work, but my video didn’t record. I regard the south summit as higher, but who would believe that I wouldn’t be here. Other hikers came up, but they had no warm clothes. There was a crag to the south with a cairn built upon it. I checked it for a register, but there was nothing.

Heading north now along the ridge, I topped out on the north summit. My summit twirl video here was successful. Going back south along the ridge to the main trail, I descended to the saddle between Mt. Judah and Donner Peak. Hikers were resting here, but I passed them to make the short 200 foot or so climb to the top of Donner Peak. I had to scout around a bit for my route, but I found it, a bit higher than I figured at first. Some other people were looking to climb to the top, but they were going the harder way. I took off my pack on the summit, and prepared for a stay.

There was a new register box, and I took pictures. The book was not in a Zip-loc baggie, and was quite soaked. I declined to sign-in, and instead, later, did another summit twirl video. Some other hikers had come up, and they looked at the wet register. I took some pictures with my telephoto lens of the distant peaks, and we left each other alone. They shortly left, and then I did some more video.

Feeling a slight urge, I decided to head back to the car. I checked out where the use trail coming up from the saddle went, and it headed into a large alcove with a campsite. There were more people and more dogs. One moron was cutting the trail. Hikers with no packs and no water were coming up. I sought to give them lots of room, and didn’t say a word. No matter how much news about all the stupidity and endless rescues, they’ll never learn.

Coming back to the trailhead, there were more people with a dog. I used the porta potty, and got back to my car at 2:22 p.m. I had enough. I had thoughts of a third easy peak, but I’ll have to break into conditioning more gradually. I took notes on the drive out, and stopped at a gas station for more drink, and to use the restroom again.

Back on the Interstate westbound, there was lots of traffic. Stopping for more food and drink in Colfax, I made it back home without any bad traffic jams.

Hiking then about 4.5 miles, with 1,400 feet of gain, I had driven 186 miles. Capturing 451 images and movie clips (329.5 MB, 6:12), I spent $18.53. Used about half a tank of gas, maybe 5 gallons. There were no mosquitoes, or much bugs of any sort.

Needing more conditioning, a personal trainer would now be worth something to me. The old hiking club demanded money for hiking, since, by them, it was work. Most all of them, last I saw, have degenerated into blobs. While myself, I am not any prime model for fitness, I can still climb peaks. My old hiking buddy, at age 67, climbed seven peaks once, with 19,000 feet of gain, led by me. I don’t expect that I will ever find anyone to do similarly for me, so be it.