PYRAMID PEAK (9,983') 23X July 11, 2002

In forever search of good exercise, I met up with my 80 year old, longtime, adventure buddy at an early hour, and we carpooled up U.S. 50 to come to our parking spot, for this route up along Rocky Canyon. The early morning temps were pleasant and cool. I knew it was due to get very hot today in the Central Valley. We would save a bit of energy by enjoying the Desolation Wilderness.

Starting this climb at 6:36 a.m., I looked forward to a great day. I had a new memory card to test, and am now so confident of my Coolpix that I left behind my back-up digital camera.

My pal set a good pace. He climbs this peak every week or so, and refuses to even look at any other mountain! He speculated on our summit times, and could not promise how he'd feel. I expected a leisurely ascent, with warm temps.

We had found the use trail quickly, and soon topped out of the river canyon at the aspen grove at 7,400' elevation. Going more slowly, I was apprised of many plant species, and was surprised at my pal's knowledge. We had passed a sugar pine, with its huge cones. Many plants I just took as generic shrubs all had names!

The sun hit us and the temperatures rose maybe 20 degrees. I thought of turning back, but we had a peak to climb. The use trail goes on, and diamond and arrow shaped markers on trees indicated the way. There were also many ducks, a set of stacked rocks, to follow. I had drunk a liter of water after an hour of climbing, having brought three full bottles. I figured I could mix clean snow in my canteens, and thus get maybe even double my liquids.

We spoke of our recent activities, and I shot away with my digital camera. We rested in spots in the shade, and I did more photography. Soon, we came to the south ridge of the peak, seeing it ahead and above of us. The now fainter use trail continues to the talus field near the top. I went ahead, needing plenty of summit time to do vista snapshots, and to "see" good pictures.

Hopping up the big blocky rocks, I came to the summit at 11:27 a.m. I went about shooting all the views, and beautiful Lake Aloha sprawled out to the east made a gorgeous scene!

Butterflies and flies buzzed about. It was warm! I had left my register materials at home, not wanting to be tempted to leave one. Two other hikers came up. One of the other hikers asked about a summit register. I informed him that the USFS local wilderness management doesn't allow them, urged on, I hear, by disgruntled members of the local activities organization.

My buddy soon arrived, and after my taking some more quick movies and snapshots, decided to leave the summit and hike back down. I was disappointed, hoping to spend some quality relaxing time at altitude, but followed after 15 minutes.

I think I am losing my limberness on the angled rocks, being worried about falling over. I took my time, and shortly came back to the use trail in the alpine soil. Catching up with my companion, we filled our canteens with snow, and I drank the ice cold water, making up for the warm temps. Clouds were building up, and in another hour, blocked out the blue sky and sun. The temperatures became cooler. Descending in a careful and slow manner, we heard thunder as we got lower. I enjoyed the diffuse light, and now appreciated the wise decision to go down early.

I shot more photos, mainly to fill up my new memory card, and we came back to the busy highway and our car by 3:23 p.m. Our easy descent took some 3 hours.

We did some 4,000' gain over 6 miles round trip. I shot some 150 digital images and movie clips (1.6 MB, 0:35, 320 x 240 pixels).

I wore a T-shirt and shorts all day, slathering on plenty of bug juice and sunscreen. My buddy wore a white, long-sleeved shirt and long pants, for protection from the sun and the mosquitoes and flies. Hats were very useful today. Sodas in the ice chest in the car made for big savings from the dollar cans in the local stores.