Signs announced trail magic at Harts Pass as we approached. Although we did not plan to stay long, we stopped to say hi. The trail angel was out replenishing supplies, so we sat down to talk to another hiker who had just returned from the border.
Two rangers walked up as we were talking. "Are you Sierra?" they asked. Bill and Patti, the volunteer rangers at Harts Pass, introduced themselves as friends of Coach Lindsay, one of Sierra's skiing coaches. What a small world!
After they left, Slick (PCT '08) returned and cooked up some delicious food. Sitting down, eating, talking, relaxing, we no longer felt the same sense of urgency to move down the trail. Two hours later, we finally started hiking again.
We spent the afternoon traversing a series of beautiful but indistinguishable passes: Buffalo Pass, Windy Pass, Foggy Pass, Jim Pass, Devil's Backbone. We enjoyed warm weather and a rich array of fall colors as we walked.
It was getting dark as we approached Holman Pass. An icy fog cloaked the pass and the valley below. Unable to penetrate the cool mist, our headlamp beams reflected back at us, rather than illuminating the trail. We climbed out of the fog and finally found camp near a spring high above Holman Pass.