TEN FALLS LOOP June 5-7, 2012

Still needing some exercise and game for doing some light traveling, I figured to visit a national park for watching the Venus transit across the sun. As with the annular solar eclipse, I sought to view and photograph it on top of a good peak.

Taking off Tuesday after breakfast and voting in the election, I motored on CA 120 east to Yosemite National Park. I made a stop at the Rim of the World vistapoint, then at the entrance sign where they have put up a stand for cameras. I made my usual stops for photos, at Half Dome view, Tamarack Creek, and Cascade Creek, then came to the Valley for more of my usual shots at the typical pullouts, first at El Capitan, then of Yosemite Falls. Parking by the Village, I started a short walk for exercise.

Taking a bike trail, I headed for Lower Yosemite Falls. Lots of people walking about. I came to the bridge and the view area, then took a short side trail to another view. Back to the Village, I went into the visitor center, and wandered a bit before going back to my car.

Now heading south on CA 41, I stopped at Tunnel View, then took the road to Glacier Point. I stopped first at Washburn Point, then parked at the Glacier Point lot. Telescopes were out for viewing the Venus transit already in progress. I took some photos of the view, then a kind person allowed me to connect my camera to his telescope for some good pictures.

Motoring over to the Sentinel Dome trailhead, I began with more of my own photography with my own telephoto lens. The sun was going behind clouds, which made it a bright disk safe enough for me to take pictures without any filters. I took the trail to the dome summit (8,122'), then topped out after a short time. I began with summit and view photos, and made myself comfortable. The sun went behind more clouds, and I continued with more photos. Someone whooped as the sun was seen as a bright disk in the middle of dark clouds. This would be better than with the annular eclipse.

I spoke with other hikers, then after the peak of the transit, started down with more photos of the clouds that now obscured the sun. Back on the trail, I saw a deer, and then the sun began to set. Back to the car, I motored off and caught the sunset glow at a pullout, then took CA 41 south. This highway turns and twists a lot, and I’d get to Fresno too late for any fine dining. I had some fries in Oakhurst, then expediently motored into town. I got some more food, then checked into my motel.

Up at a later hour, Wednesday, I used my device to get the news, and then got a drink and bite for breakfast. Taking CA 168 east, I wound through foothill roads and then to an overlook. I had some ice cream at Shaver Lake, then motored on to the turnoff for Rancheria Falls. The sign for the trailhead road faces more for westbound drivers, so I missed it at first, but having been here once before, knew about where it was. I took the dirt road up to the parking area, and used the facility.

It is a mile trail to the falls. There were no mosquitoes. A few people came by after I got there, and I had to wait for them to move or to be quiet as I did some video. I included myself in my own video, as I’m having some fun doing. Finished with the camera work, I got back to my car to motor on east to Kaiser Pass.

A Jeep road leads to White Bark Vistapoint. I sought for some good views of the peaks in the High Sierra. I hiked a bit northwards for a better view of Mt. Ritter and Banner Peak, but trees were in the way. I hiked back south to get a higher view, and got my shots by a overhanging rock. I enjoyed the view, relaxing and sipping water, and spoke with a person who had driven up.

Hiking back to my car, I drove back west down the Kaiser Pass road to stop at a visitor center, then to keep track of the miles. Shaver Lake made for a few photos. There is little snow left in the Sierra, compared to last year.

Resting back at my motel, I wanted some fine dining, but the Wi-Fi was now working poorly. Looking at the old phone book, I found a spot that I had found out about by the Net, so made a reservation and got a table as I arrived. I spent almost as much as my last expensive meal in Vegas, and couldn’t eat it all. Too rich.

I slept early, back in my room, and got up at about 4:15 a.m., the next day. Figuring on seeing a few more falls, I thought to decline hiking Alta Peak, as I am too fraught with weight and slowness. I’d have to camp, another night, and if I failed to make the top, that might crush me!

The 180 freeway made for pictures, and the sun rose over the peaks. I stopped at a vistapoint, then arrived at the Grant Grove area for food and coffee.

Motoring east and down on the road to Cedar Grove, I took some photos of the views, with a stop by the Kings River, then stopped at Grizzly Falls picnic area to walk the slight distance to Grizzly Falls. I spent a short while with my camera, then motored off for the next falls. A bridge was washed out by Cedar Grove, but I stopped at the information center, and got the directions for Roaring River Falls.

Next to the highway, a good parking lot offered the op to do this quarter mile hike. Both these falls were in morning shadow. Continuing on to Roads End, I parked to do the 4.6 mile hike out to Mist Falls. The trail brought back some memories, then, from the junction, I took the trail up the South Fork of the Kings. New to me, I shot video of the rapids, then came to Mist Falls by about an hour from the trail junction. I explored to get some nice video clips, with the area to myself. Not staying too long, I ran into other hikers on my way back. My total round trip time was about four hours.

With the sun now more overhead, I stopped again back at Roaring River Falls, and also Grizzly Falls. I liked a good pullout by Boyden Caves for some more photos. The light was better now for the view from the many pullouts along the twisting road climbing out of the canyon. I got a soda from the market back at Grant Grove, then figured on driving straight home. Leaving the park by about 4:20 p.m., I was home at 8:32 p.m.

Hiking then roughly 18 miles with 2,300 feet gain, I captured 1,389 images and movie clips. I drove 831 miles, using some 23 gallons of fuel. My total expenses were about $250 total, enroute. I had about 9 gallons in my tank before I left home, with the low fuel light coming on as I came back home. I paid from 4.219 to 3.999 per gallon. I saved $40 with my park pass, although I never was asked for my pass at Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. They are working on a new entrance station, and all were closed as I entered the park.

Only a few mosquitoes were about at Roads End and Mist Falls, and I used some old repellant. No sunblock necessary.

My count for ten falls is by viewing and photographing them. I didn’t hike to Vernal or Nevada Falls, seeing them from Glacier and Washburn Points. Disappointed that I didn’t seek to use the trail report which said snow free to the top, if I had a partner, I’d have tried Alta Peak. You need to be more careful when you are as old as I am, now, and I refused to chance spoiling my near perfect lifetime safety record, with a potential rescue.