The sunrise on the morning of our sixth day was breathtaking. The air was crisp and with that invigoration we packed our gear up and prepared to hop back onto the trail. Our guide, Charlie, left us and wished our crew good luck; he would be backpacking his way back to base camp to guide another crew.
The trail was hot that day, with little to no clouds and barely any tree cover, we baked in the sun. As we hiked our way to Rich Cabins, we witnessed more of the impact of the forest fire that had torched it’s way across the Ranch. The first half of our day was riddled with the remains of charred trees. We stopped at Dan Beard cabin and participated in a number of teamwork building activities. They included a wall to hoist each other up, rope swings, and other games. It was fun, but we were eager to get back to the trail. Filling up our nalgenes with cloudy water that smelled like rotten eggs, we pushed forward.
The last stretch of our hike would be primarily up hill and then ending with going down into the valley at Rich Cabins. The up hill was not the difficult part, but it was the sun beating down on us and the rising temperature. I wanted to illustrate the moment we got to the top of the hill. It was a moment of relief, excitement, and the realization of our journey to come. Looking out into the distance we saw Baldy Mountain. Climbing Baldy Mountain was a monumental moment of our trip and to see it in the distance was shocking. This sight gave us perspective of how small we were in comparison to the land; we had hoped to be standing at it’s summit in a few days time.
Not looking back we hiked down into the cliffs leading to the bottom of the Valley, and stopped for lunch with Baldy still in our sights. Out of nowhere a bolt of lightning struck not far behind us. The crack of thunder followed; shaking the ground. It was a deafening sound and with complete urgency, we packed up our gear. Looking above us, the sky was black. The storm approached out of nowhere, but we were not thinking about the daily rainstorm around lunch time. In reality, we should have gotten into the lightning positions, but we were close to camp and ran as fast as we could down the cliffside.
We set up a tarp as quick as possible as the clouds loomed overheard and the moment we got underneath, the heavens opened up and rain bombarded us. We were lucky that we did not get struck by lightening and gotten utterly drenched by the rain. After the storm passed, we went about our normal activities of dinner, hacky sack and especially visiting the farm, which was set back in the 1800s.
Our next day would entail the hike to the base of Baldy Mountain which would be another challenge to face.