Today was set up to be a pretty intense day. I wanted to do 28 miles which also included a 5,000 foot drop in elevation and a 5,000 foot climb into and out of the small town of Belden. In order to get all this in I needed a great start to the morning, and I did alright. I was out of camp by 7:45am and off like a shot. I camped 19 miles from Belden, which meant if I wanted a meal in the restaurant I needed to be there around 2pm in order to have enough sunlight to not have to headlamp into camp. I was cruising this morning, conscious of the pacing. I arrived at Belden at 1:50pm, not a bad 19 mile morning!
This timing afforded me the ability to get a late lunch at the restaurant and charge up my devices for a while before needing to head out again. I figured that if I hit the trail by 4pm at the latest I would get to my chosen camp along Clear Creek in another 9 miles right when last light was coming down at 7:30pm. I started putting my shoes on and packing my devices all up around 3:30pm and was out the door by 4pm. This was the start of the climb and it was every bit as nasty as it looked on the elevation map. I got to the top of the climb about 6pm but still had about 4 miles to go to reach Clear Creek, putting me pretty much right on my projected 7:30pm pace. I got to the creek and found a campsite right as last light fell. I grabbed my headlamp and filled up my filter bag at the creek and then set up camp.
It feels good to have accomplished this day. I was able to knock out 28 miles AND killed 2 hours (from 2-4pm)! Tomorrow I hope to repeat the feat without the nice 2 hour lunch. Another 28 would give me only 12 miles to get to the road where my mother will pick me up at the same sport she picked me up the first time when I got sick. I very much feel as though I am hiking towards the light at the end of the tunnel at this point, with only about 5 more days of hiking to complete my steps from border to border.