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  • At the top of the ridge, we stop to put on an extra layer and catch our breaths. The sign says 13,500 feet. It's cold and still early; as we rest, a group of hikers comes from the other direction, the John Muir Trail direction. They have full packs: through-hikers.

    A woman comes up the trail with a pack, wearing gaiters over her boots and thin hiking shorts. My father, impressed, calls out to her. You're tougher than I am, I'd have been too cold in shorts!

    I am cold, she chatters as she passes. Cold but on her way down the mountain, two hundred miles behind her, ten miles above the end of the trail. So close.

    I rub my hands together and stuff them in my armpits, wishing I'd brought gloves. We snap a few photos, eat something, and keep going.
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