We begin our hike in the cool, golden light of early morning. The pack is heavy - in addition to food and water, there are thermals, snow pants, fleece, down jacket, crampons, ice axe. I have a hard time hitting my stride at first - plagued by near constant anxiety for the past several months I am truly out of sorts.
The sight of the Sierra Club hut a few miles up the trail is a welcome sight. We pause to put on our crampons and chat with a few other hikers resting there.
It is cool but not windy on top; we lie back on the sun warmed rocks and for a few delightful moments I actually drift into sleep.
Then the descent to Devil's Backbone, along that frightening ridge line and down toward the ski resort of Thunder Mountain.
The idea is floated: Take the (ancient) ski lift down to the car? Enthusiastic "Yes!" from the others - for me a fear of heights is weighed against the idea of walking solo down the next several miles of dusty, rocky trail in the afternoon sun. I go with the ski lift.
There is a flurry of tickets paid, heavy packs given over to the attendant and almost before I realize it the chair has scooped us up and we are dangling high above the precipice. A squawk of alarm escapes me, I am reluctant to open my eyes.
At last we are safely down, gear collected and we relax with a cup of tea and some 'organic' gummy bears in the waning sunlight.