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The haul up to the pass was fairly easy, one of the easier, if not the easiest, passes of the entire trip. With less than a thousand feet in elevation gain from the lakes below it was a good deal lower than Mount Baxter and had the added bonus of a trail and switchbacks at my disposal. The adventure from the previous day definitely made the current day’s trek seem like child’s play in comparison. That, however, meant that I was forced to make a decision all that much more quickly.
From the pass I gazed east, down the valley, past Oak Creek campground and to the For Independence Indian Reservation and town of Independence beyond. The early morning haze in the valley made it so I couldn’t actually see any of those landmarks but I knew they were there all the same. To stay on the trail meant a…
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