Leaving Pueblano Ruins camp, we ventured to our layover site; the Base of Baldy Mountain. We would be staying there for two days and climbing to the summit on the second. The hike was primarily uphill considering we were hiking to the base which sat at roughly 8,000 ft.
Stopping at French Henry camp, we hoped to explore the abandoned gold mine. Unfortunately we were unable to do so because of a trail emergency. The staff had gotten word that several miles away, a scout had injured himself. Staff members had to hike from the camp to get him because there was not enough to carry him out. This made me think of the lingering possibility of something that could happen to myself or even worse, one of our crew members.
Instead of exploring the gold mine, we panned for gold in a stream that ran through the camp and participated with a blacksmith. He walked us through the steps of making an “s” hook. Each one of us got to step in and contribute. I was mesmerized by the process and I was glad to have been able to partake, even just for the few minutes that I did. The “s” hook was finished with bees wax and we decided to give it to our crew leader, Jack. He was not originally on the trip, but he came on every single practice hike and showed clear determination every second of the way. One of our other members had gotten sick and dropped out, leaving an open spot. He filled the position and became the leader.
Hiking uphill for a mile or so we finally reached Copper Park, the base of the mountain. After setting up camp, we did not have much to do. There were these small animals called “Minibears”; they looked like a cross between a squirrel and chipmunk. They were nicknamed Minibears because they scoured for any drop of food like the bears did on the Ranch. We rigged up one of our pots and attached a long rope to a stick which was placed to prop up the pot. Putting a heavy rock on the top of the pot and trail mix underneath it, we waited. Soon enough one came to investigate. We failed to catch the first, but several minutes later after resetting our trap we succeeded in catching one. It was an amazing moment for us; letting it go soon after we finished jumping up and down in excitement.
Noticeably colder at Copper Park, it began to hail. I had never seen hail in the heat of Summer and was awestruck along with the rest of the crew. Little did I know that I would be even more stunned the next day during our climb to the Peak of Baldy Mountain.