Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day 5: Highway 114 to Baldy Lake Junction

After a delicious breakfast at the W Cafe, we headed to the post office to check on the status of the Priority Mail box containing our dinners. Four days after mailing the box is languishing in Denver. Lesson learned. When mailing a package from one small town to another, never rely on delivery estimates.

Returning to the trail, we followed the trail up the narrow shoulder of Highway 114. Reaching a dirt forest service road, we heard a familiar voice calling to us: Atlas! 

We met Atlas on the PCT in 2012. Although he was section hiking then, he went on to complete the trail in 2013. He had already hiked the AT in 2009, so when he finishes the CDT this year he will complete hiking's Triple Crown. 

Jeff hiked with us until lunch, and then we said our goodbyes. We climbed onto a ridge, then continued to follow the ridge over a series of steep, rocky ever-higher rolling climbs. Numerous downed trees blocked the trail, and we slowed our pace to climb over or around them, never settling into a steady rhythm. 

The clouds gathered as the afternoon progressed. A cold, biting wind swayed the trees, and they creaked and groaned as we passed beneath them. Light, fluffy snow flakes blew from the sky, melting on our clothes. 

We leapfrogged with Atlas all day, and eventually set up camp together near the Baldy Lake junction. We enjoyed catching up and swapping stories over dinner, but quickly retreated to the warmth of our sleeping bags as soon as the sun went down. 

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