MT. HOFFMAN (10,850') 3X and MT. DANA (13,053') 7X June 22-23, 2002

Buoyed by a Presidential proclamation that National Park entry fees were to be waived this weekend in the interests of national fitness, I chose to go to Yosemite National Park to climb a couple standard conditioner peaks.

Leaving home Saturday at 9 a.m., after charging up an extra digital camera battery, I quickly motored to Highway 120 and headed east. Arriving at the May Lake Trailhead, I was going up the trail at 1:30 p.m. My goal was Mt. Hoffman, which offers a steep, rough, use trail to the best view in the park, said by John Muir himself. The peak is about the geographic center of the Park.

Mosquitoes were abundant, and I had slathered on repellent. I reached the shores of May Lake after 25 minutes, and took the use trail to the left. This goes up the south side of the mountain, and yes, there are places where you can lose the trail. A few small snow patches offer the beginner hiker a problem. The route meanders to a ridge, and then climbs up steeply.

I sought to summit quickly, and came to the bottom of the rock slabs that lead to the top. After some class 2 climbing, I achieved the topmost rock, next to a solar-powered facility, at 3:22 p.m. The drop-off to the north was awesome, as usual. Me shooting away at the 360 degree views, a few other hikers came up. I chose to place a small register, with nesting cans that I constantly carry, and a small book which probably won't last a month.

Since my hiking time was good, I lounged about the top, and figured to enjoy this marvelous view. A marmot scurried about the area, inspecting our packs, probably for food.

I was back to the car in some hour and 17 minutes, and picked up some backpackers tired of the mosquitoes. I dropped them off at their truck at a trailhead near Tuolumne Meadows. I wondered whether to hike Lembert Dome, too, today. Some rock climbers were on the west side.

I drove east on 120, then had a light meal at Lee Vining, CA. I had made good time on the peak, and sought to not erase my calorie burning gains by stuffing myself. I drove the 5 miles or so back up 120 to a County campground, and tried to sleep in my car.

I managed a few winks, and woke up early Sunday morning. I strolled briefly in the early morning about the town of Lee Vining, and had a great breakfast.

Motoring back up to Tioga Pass, I started my climb of Mt. Dana by 7:30 a.m. The entrance station ranger informed me that two other hikers were ahead of me. I tried to take a leisurely pace, with lots of rests. The use trail is buried in places by snow, and I was glad I had my ice axe. Regular hikers can go around the snow fields. I caught up with another hiker, and found a good scree trail up the final portions of the climb. My ascent time was some 3 hours and 37 minutes--slow.

My consolation was, I thought, that this is my 50-50 climb---being 50 years old, and 50 pounds overweight!

Snapping more photos (with Mt. Lyell at 13,114', the highest point in the Park--photo left) and movie clips (320 x 240 pixels, 3.5 MB, 0:33) at the summit, I had no rush to get anywhere. I spoke with the other hiker, and got some recommendations for easy peaks in Washington State. He was wow'ed at the vista of Mono Lake.

A couple more hikers came up, and I left the summit by 12:30 p.m. I was able to enjoy many, short, standing glissades on the gently sloped snowfields, and was back to my car in a bit over two hours.

Again, I had placed a register, and a marmot investigated us at the summit area.

My thought was to head to Reno, NV, and use a great e-mail deal on a hotel room, so I headed north on U.S. 395. I shot pictures at my usual photo stops, and had to go around the east side of the Sweetwater Range due to the Cannon fire. Traffic was busy in the normally quiet town of Wellington, NV.

Having a sandwich and drink in Minden, NV, I took Highway 88 over Carson Pass, and thusly chose to save my scarce funds for visiting Reno another time. Hiking Mt. Rose for my 10X, the next day, isn't worth the $50 or so I would spend, right now.

My total hiking stats were some 5,000' gain with maybe 10 miles round trip. I shot some 280 digital images and movie clips, and maybe 20 frames of Kodachrome.

Most of the time hiking, I wore a treated polyester T with action slacks. I used my $39 low cut hiking boots, which did fine. The snow was firm, so I never used gaitors. The night at 7,000' elevation was pleasant enough, and good mountain breezes during the day kept me cool and happy.

Per the fitness plan, I suppose it's perhaps a measure of ego vanity that we peak climbers choose to exercise in the most beautiful locales, with the cleanest air and water, and the great views to reward us when we reach the top.