Rising from our sleeping bags before the sun, the crew climbed onto the trail. Our big day had finally come; the peak of Baldy Mountain was nearly in our grasp. It was a “frigid” 40 degrees Fahrenheit and we began our ascent from 8,000 feet. There were two options offered to us to climb the mountain. We could either take the longer, but easier trail or the shorter and steeper goat gully; we chose the latter.
Our hike began in the woods and our upwards climb became more barren with each step. To our surprise there was remains of snow as we touched the orange shale. The shale was thin but jagged and covered the entirety of the face; each step that was taken slid backwards a bit. Looking upwards, the trail was steeper than I had ever imagined. The temperature slowly dropped and the wind picked up it’s pace. Taking a short break at the halfway mark to the peak, our crew gazed outwards. The view was spectacular and I could not wait to see the world from the top.
Success. Our goal had been achieved. Looking all around I was struck with amazement. The green valleys and pale deserts looked as if they expanded infinitely; words cannot fully describe this moment. Funny enough, I have no photos of just the scenery from top.
Prior to the trip, my father had purchased a small kite and decided that it would be a great thing to bring out when we had reached the summit of Baldy. I handed him the duct taped kite and he unraveled it. Smiles broke out on everyone’s faces. We all gathered in a line and each member of the crew held a part of the twine and the kite was raised above us. This was one of the most important and memorable moments for me on the trip. It encompassed our teamwork, determination, and the halfway mark of the trek. If we were able to make it to the peak of a 12,441 foot mountain in New Mexico by working together and all the preparation, we were confident that we could make it to the Tooth of Time; our final high point of the trek.
After basking in the moment we had our photograph taken and sent to our families nearly 2,000 miles away. It was the only moment on the trip where we had telephone service, so we wanted to let everyone know that we were doing just fine. The hike down was the longer trail to the top and we eventually made it to Baldy Town camp where they exclaimed that our kite was seen from their camp. Arriving back in Copper Park a few hours later, everyone either fell asleep under the rain fly, relaxed, or played hacky sack.
Tomorrow was only hours away and the days coming would provide countless more challenges for us to face.