THUNDER MOUNTAIN (9,408' and 9,410') 3X August 11, 2004

Time again for a Northern Sierra peak, the forecast high temps led me to leave home, and motor up U.S. 50 to Mormon-Emigrant Road, and then to CA 88. There was no smoke from the fires in the foothills, and the sky was clear blue. This is a good solo hike, with a trail to the top, and usually other hikers about.

I started from the Thunder Mountain Trailhead, clearly marked, along Highway 88. A few other cars were in the primitive lot. It is probably only a matter of time before the lot gets paved, with restrooms installed, and then the fee requested. This is one beautiful hike!

Passing just one other hiker, I topped out after two hours and five minutes. There were a few wildflowers left, and the red heather acted as a harbinger of fall. The mule ears were fading fast, and soon more colors will start to appear. The trail was a bit dusty, with no bugs that bit me, although some insects were flitting about. I applied lots of sunscreen, as I hear it has to be used up--the effectiveness expires after awhile. From the trail and the ridge up, I shot some nice views of the Kirkwood Ski Resort.

Once, while there was still a lot of snow, we snow-climbed up from a subdivision here to gain the ridge. We saw that Thunder Mountain was too far for the time we had, but we bagged Martin Point (9,250'). We found an old can with some 1930's entries, so I named the peak Mt. Winter-Smuggs, or some such, after the two entrants. Later, I saw on the map that the class 3 point already had a name.

Atop the further point, 9,408', there was a plastic box register with plenty of room. The keepsakes inside included toilet paper (not used), a dollar bill, and various items that people had signed-in on. A large notebook made the current book. I managed to record many a page with my digital camera. I wish I had more time to do this on my other peak climbs!

I snapped away, with the light becoming diffuse from high clouds moving in. I tried for a panorama to the east, which came out well. Three other young hikers joined me on top, and they signed-in as well. I carried a variety of books to place, but only a larger set of nesting cans.

Hiking over to the higher point 9,410', I found no register, although I had left a good one years ago. I snapped my own picture, reviewing it in the camera LCD, then started back down to the main trail. Other hikers had come up, although it was getting warm. It was to be some 106 degrees in town.

I made good time getting back to my car, arriving there at about 3:50 p.m. It was too early to head straight home. I motored back west along Highway 88, stopping for more photos. There is a nice, wide, gravel pullout on the south side of the high speed highway, where one can get a view of both Thunder Mountain and Silver Lake.

The Mormon-Emigrant Road is now better signed, with some 30 miles posted as the distance to Highway 50. I used to take this lightly traveled road, a.k.a. Alt. 50, many times enroute to the peaks, and remembered the good times.

A food and drink break in Pollock Pines was pleasant, then I read at the Placerville library. I saw a good sunset coming, so I detoured to Kalithea Park. I shot many a picture of the red glow and the pinkish clouds, with the lights of some newer development winking on.

Back to U.S. 50, I was home to enjoy a cold shower, and a light meal, out, of beef noodle soup.

I hiked some 7.2 miles with 1,700' gain, round trip. I shot 252 digital images, with 20 more as back-up. I spent only $23, mostly for a full tank of gas (I used less than a half tank). The drive totaled some 200 miles round trip. Refused, or ignored, for my attendance on a Reno Sierra Club peak climb the weekend before, it seems I am turning a new page in my peak climbing career. With most or all SPS trips full, or also denied attendance, it appears I will have to limit myself to easier solo peaks. Some leaders are kind enough to allow me along, but with my advancing slowness or age, I realize doors do close on you!