For years I have read about the trail that cuts through the Mount Baldy wilderness and the surrounding sacred tribal lands. The day had finally come for me to explore the trail myself. I have two options : an eight mile up and back, or a twelve mile loop. I’ve a little over a month until my big overseas adventure and so the plan was to tackle the longer of the routes.

I quickly come to a split in the trail, which I make a mental note would be my exit for the loop trail. It is overgrown with fallen tree branches and wild meadow grasses, making that trail harder to follow. I wonder if that will be problematic as I continue up Mount Baldy. The open green meadows out here are breathtakingly wonderful. I take in a large drink of water and carry upward.

The possibility of a summer rainstorm looks likely, but I strap the rain gear onto my pack and continue on. A row of tents along the river are spotted far below me. It is an idyllic image that gets forever burned into my mind. Breathing becomes more labored as I go, and the water I’m taking in makes me wonder if I’ll run out of my 5 liters before this trek is over.

It’s the longest four miles I’ve done in quite awhile, yet I reach the summit of Mount Baldy in decent time. The storm clouds are really gathering above me now. I see a sign that lets me know I can go no farther unless I have special permission from the Tribe. The true summit is a very sacred place to the Native American tribes that live here. I respect their wishes and culture and don’t proceed. A nice gent is resting here, waiting for his friends that climbed the Summit. He let’s me know that if I head down the trail to complete the loop that it is very covered in fallen debris and that the trail is slow going.

With the impending rain, and the fact that my water supply is much lower than I anticipated, I decide to hike back down the same trail I climbed up.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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