We had summited Baldy Mountain and had to keep moving forward. We began traveling back down the trail that we had come up two days prior. This led us to the Aztec Mine camp; we were going to tour the mine today. Wearing our hardhats and strapping our headlamps to them we embarked through the “portal”. A guide was showing us the way, but even so it was intimidating. Pitch black, hunched down, and the temperature was dropping; water dripped down the walls and there were puddles at our feet. With only my headlight and those in front of me, we ventured deeper.
Stopping a few times along the way, we looked at old mining equipment left behind after the mine was shut down. Eventually reaching a chain-link fence from floor to ceiling, the guide stopped us and told ghost stories about the mine. There he told us to turn all of our lights off to experience what a miner would have to see if his lamp were to fail; nothing at all. I could not tell where I was standing and my sense of direction was absent. This was a frightening reality, but one that many had and can potentially have today.
After leaving the mine, we continued down the trail towards Santa Claus camp. Stopping around lunch time at Dean Staff camp, we ate our lunches. This was a opportunity to rest my blistered feet, but it did not last long.
One member of our crew, Dew, was the navigator. Getting lost in the backcountry was not preferred and it was essential that we were always checking both our bearings and location. We became exponentially restless each mile that would pass and we were not in camp. Tensions were rising, but it was important to keep our cool. Ensuring that we were heading in the right direction was a major responsibility. Everyone was relying on him, but we also were there to help if he needed it.
Eventually we reached Santa Claus camp and I was relieved. After setting up camp everyone kicked back in relief. The day was more difficult than others and we overcame the challenges it presented to us. Our next camp was Visto Grande and would be eager to reach it.