“Hey, you. You are finally awake. We are trying to climb a mountain today, and you are the last one up. We got a big day today, 10 miles, right?” As I look toward my brother with a hateful grudge on my face, I say “How do you make each morning harder and harder to like you.” But I realize he’s right and we have a schedule to keep. It was a cold dark morning that day. I can not remember the temp, but it was definitely a morning where I wore multiple layers of pants and shirts. I finally build up the courage and leave my sleeping bag and pack up my sleeping gear.
I slowly unzip my tent door and look out. What I am greeted to first is the dark, dank, misty atmosphere. The smell of the clean, high altitude air is something I could never forget. And the squishy dirty tells me it must have rained a couple hours before I awoke. I boot up my cheap LED headlamp because the suns not up yet and get to my morning routine. Its my job to collapse the tent and bear line. As I march my way through the darkness to find our food and smellable items. I forget to notice the random barbwire acting like a tripwire and fall face first into some mushy dirt. What a way to start a morning, a face full dirt acting like the coffee grounds that get stuck in your teeth. A couple cuss words later and frustration with knots, I separate the food for the day and pack up my 45-pound bag. It took me and my fellow friends 45 minutes to completely pack up, witch is not bad for 8 people.
With breakfast being the most important meal of the day, we decided to eat as we hiked the trail. We ate cinnamon oats and banana chips and drank a high energy vitamin powder. Its not much but you learn to like it when you are hungry and stretched for time. We have activities and programs to do near our next campsite, so we try to save time for those and eat while we hike. So, the trail here has sharp turns and steep inclines. Its not for the faint-hearted. The boys and I have trained for this for a whole 2 years but still felt like the mountain punched us in the face. We hiked miles and miles up hill with multiple false peaks, switchbacks, and crushed spirits. For reference, we stared the day at about 10,200 feet of elevation and climbed to 12,441 feet, or about 6 ¼ football fields for a duration of 4 miles. You could feel the air get a little thinner as you hike up, and I have never felt anything like it.
So, we eventually get to the spot were able to drop our hiking bags and take up our day packs. It was pointless to hike the remaining 2 miles of Mount Baldy with an extra 45 pounds because we would eventually back track down the mountain the same way we went up. This was some of the most beautiful hiking on our 12-day trip. We saw old copper mines, some wildlife, and obviously some 100 miles of almost untouched nature. Simply breath-taking views, also its literally breath taking because I’m not used to such high elevation.
The grass and wind would wave at us as we climbed, and it felt like it was completely wrapped around us and could fill our clothes. The closer we got, the windier and rockier it got. Soon we got to the finial stretch. This was the toughest climb all trip, it had my friends and I climbing by all fours. The finial 400 feet of mountain turned into hand sized rocks and became almost a 45-degree angle. Every step forward felt like a half a step back. But once we got to the top, we felt so satisfied and proud of ourselves. It was windier than ever, so we ducked into the wind break rock formations and celebrated with a classic game of UNO. Which I eventually lost. But at least we all conquered the mountain and will remember the good times we had together on this trip. As much as I would love to stay up there forever, we had to backtrack before the storm rolls in. There would be rain and possibly lightning almost everyday at noon, so you cannot stay long, and risk being struck. This trip was very important for me as a person. Its honestly one of my favorite memories of my childhood and I would do it again in a heartbeat.