After lunch we decided to do some exploring on the fire trails. Our first stop was the campsite that FunN4Lo had set up Thursday before the storm came in. Everything had been covered in snow and still needed to be broken down and packed up. When we reached the site I was so glad that we had wimped out on the camping plans; the weather was still absolutely brutal at that elevation. We were literally in the clouds and the temperature was just above freezing. There was still a good amount of snow on the ground and everything inside the tent was wet. Despite how miserable the weather was, I was excited to have the opportunity to shoot in those conditions. It was a big change from all of the desert photography I've been doing lately, and definitely a change from the beaches at home. So I wandered around shooting until everyone decided they were too cold and we ran back to the jeeps and put the heaters on full blast.
Here's a shot of our campsite:
Bill was ready to head back down the mountain after that, but I wanted to explore some more and NotMySonsJK, FunN4Lo and Bobby were more than ready to lead the tour, so we took off down another trail. There were some fun puddles and mud from the snow melt to get the jeep good and dirty, and with hardly anyone else up there we had a blast. We took another short (and cold) hike to check out a spot than NotMySonsJK thought I would like to photograph. He was right (how did he know I have a thing for dead trees?), although I'm sure he didn't envision it in the clouds and fog. I've only processed one of those images so far, but I really like it. It's one of those shots that you really need to click the image and go into the gallery, then choose to view it at a larger size, to really appreciate it.
It was a slippery hike over snow covered rocks back down to the jeeps hiding in the fog and clouds down below.
A turn down another random trail brought us to this really neat ramshackle cottage at the edge of a lake. I've only processed one of these shots so far, also, but this is probably my favorite shot of the day.
We played around the trails some more until I got hit with a really bad case of altitude sickness and I felt like I was going to die. This was the worst time ever - from the pounding headache I went right into severe nausea and then dizziness. When I started to feel like I was going to black out I knew it was time to descend. Unfortunately I've always had a problem with altitude (I used to have problems every time I went to Denver at 5,280 feet!), but I've been getting better each time. I'm fine at just over 7,000 feet, and if I give myself time to acclimate at that elevation I've been fine with exertion at 10,500 feet, but I'm a slow acclimatizer. It's a real pain to deal with when we have so many beautiful mountains here in California, and I've been struggling with conquering it without having to resort to drugs. So despite making sure I stayed well-hydrated and doing the breathing exercises, hiking around 8,000 feet eventually did me in and I had to descend a little ways. As soon as we hit 7,400 feet and stopped to air up our tires and reconnect I immediately started feeling better, and when we hit town and an elevation of around 6,800 feet I felt 100% fine, as if nothing had ever happened. I could probably have gone back up without a problem at that point, but it was almost 5:00pm, so we decided to head for home. The roads were dry and there was a surprising lack of traffic for a holiday weekend, so we made it home in record time.