05:30 am rolls around and Molly and I are up and packing. It’s her birthday, but there’s not to be any mention of this until we reach Bridgeport, the town in which we aim to celebrate with bed, food and TV. It clearly motivates Molly – she essentially runs the first mile to the 1000 mile marker. It was an emotional moment. Our feet had taken us here, through the desert and now through the mountains, we are now thruhikers.

Onwards we sprang, miles drifting behind us as we twisted and turned our way through woodland, over rivers and into meadows. Signs for Sonora Pass – the place we’d hitch from – started popping up and before we knew it we were eating breakfast by a bridge having done 6 miles before 8 am. The landscape was fresh to us. Snowless mountains bordered the open meadow fields we strolled through, the unfamiliar beauty pushing us along.

We had one large climb of the day, a nameless pass taking us up 2000 ft of elevation back to snowy slopes and traverses. Though time consuming, we didn’t bat an eyelid as we slogged up the steep climb to reach its dry ridge line. From here we could see the trail following the ridge for miles ahead of us. There was no snow to be seen, just an immensity of natural beauty either side of us. To the south were the standing giants that we had spent the last few weeks navigating and climbing, the north was new territory, a sea of rolling mountains with alpine lakes at their base. The wind did its best to imitate river crossings of past, but we feel hardened now and pushed on leaning into its gusts as we knife edged our way along scree slopes.

The trail kept us high above the valley for miles, twisting and traversing either side of the ridge. Finally, with 15 miles behind us and only just past midday, we could see the road as we stood above Sonora Pass. We started the steep snow traverse but gave up, deciding to just glissade down in not even a 10th of the time it would have taken us to walk around the bowl. At the road a kind soul named John provided us the hitch to town that we needed. Bridgeport is small, but it supplied the bed and food for the birthday celebrations.