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Sean

Summit4Sam Baldy Hike - April 15

Yesterday Cecelia and I did our Summit4Sam hike via the Ski Hut Trail to Mt. Baldy. Using suggestions from the memorial thread, we left a logbook at the register stand, along with some pictures of Sam.



We started around 5:30 AM with headlamps and too many layers. The jackets and beanies came off before the Hut.

It was an ideal morning. No wind. No clouds. We enjoyed the new sunlight as it ever so slowly slid down the Bowl.



We had the Hut area to ourselves. I placed some more photos of Sam there. The stream flowed strongly with two ribbons of water coming from each side of the gully and connecting at the trail.

Continuing around the Bowl, we donned microspikes after the boulder field, where the ice started for the steep climb through the trees.



By this point faster hikers were catching up with us. One group tried to climb up the ice without spikes. Frustrated, they asked if there was another way. I told them about going off-trail up the other side of the Bowl, but that it would be super steep. Even later in the day, when the snow had softened and started melting, most still wore micros, as some sections were very slippery. Of course, a couple show-offs managed without.

It had been some time since our last hike to Baldy. Cecelia and I liked the new signs along the trail. This one lives at the top of the ice slope.



We didn't use the spikes again until the final push to the summit. And even then they were more of a luxury than a necessity, as this slope was less intense than its predecessor.



A dozen or so people covered the summit when we arrived, with more streaming in from various directions. We placed Sam's picture on the Baldy monument, next to some flowers that others had left.





We bumped into Shin Nimura for the first time on Baldy. We shared our stories about Sam and took the obligatory selfie.



I don't know how many Baldy summits Shin has exactly, but he must be approaching 500 now. We also met an old man who told us that this was his 220-ish summit, and that he usually comes up from the Village Trail. I didn't catch his name. Cecelia met some people she knows, Rashid and Patty. They were all taking pictures of one another and having a blast.

On the way down a group opened up the Ski Hut. I talked with the leader who showed me the place and let me contribute a collage of Sam to their little library.

Below the Hut, we saw an elderly couple slowly progressing up the trail. First was the man. He seemed to be carrying everything but the kitchen sink on his back, including a pair of skis.



I asked him where he was going to ski. He said, "North side," as he passed by, steadily grinding uphill, taking one heavy step after another. His lady, Ellen, followed shortly after. We got to talking about Sam, and then she revealed her husband's name as Alvin. Suddenly it dawned on me that the guy with the skis was the Alvin who hiked with Sam through Gunsight Notch, and of whom I had included a picture in the memorial collage. Sam had emailed me the picture of his hiking partners (Alvin and Jake) for the Iron-Baldy traverse, but I hadn't recognized Alvin under all that gear he was wearing and carrying.



Alvin and Ellen were on a multi-day excursion, camping near the Hut the first night, and the summit the next. I suppose that's when Alvin plans to ski the north face, where last weekend his friend had fallen and died.

At the bottom of the trail we checked on the logbook, and it already contained over sixty signatures!


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