Cumulative Miles: 1072.5
It would seem that the trail is doing whatever it can to make us struggle. Yet, in spite of our struggles, we still choose to continue in this "heavenly torture."
Our first struggle - Getting up this morning. We have been going for sixteen days straight without a zero, and our bodies need the rest. This makes it harder to get up in the morning, but we need to make the miles, and Belden beckoned.
Our second struggle - An uphill climb in the snow. We had a ridge to climb over, and the trail was buried under the snow. We had to climb while navigating our way over five plus feet of snow. With the trail completely hidden, we slowly chipped our ascent up the hard snow.
Our third struggle - A downhill climb over a trail obscured with snow and blowdowns. Once again, we were required to use our GPS to find the trail. Looking at the map, it was easy to predict where the trail went, but we used the GPS to help, as we held hopes that the trail would unveil itself. Eventually the trail appeared, but not until we had trucked over two to three miles of solid snow.
Our fourth struggle - A trail obscured by several creeks. Once the trail was found, it decided to be overrun with several snow fed streamlets. Walking back and forth over mushy land, the hillside was inundated with water, creating several false trails. With a little work, and a lot of mud, we found the trail.
Our fifth struggle - Two stream fords of Chips Creek. As far as stream fords go, this one was not too difficult. It was bothersome to be required to cross it twice, but not too hard. The first crossing was done rather simply, and the second was made slightly difficult by the blowdown in the middle of the crossing. By now, though, we have mastered climbing over blowdowns, so we scaled the fallen tree midstream with ease.
Our sixth struggle - Incredibly rocky terrain. The trail down to Belden was a long drop, interrupted by viciously bumpy tread. Our fatigued feed kicked stumbled and rolled over jagged rocks littering the trail.
Our seventh struggle - Hot muggy heat in a burn zone in mid afternoon. As we made our final descent into Belden, we passed through an exposed burn zone, with very humid heat. While it was muggy at times, we did have a decent breeze which blew often enough to keep us cooled.
Our eighth struggle - Blowdowns. Trees over trail, trees over snow, trees over creeks, everywhere fallen trees.
At the end of the day, we just needed some sort of hiker haven, a place welcoming to trail worn hikers, a place where we could shower, and wash our wounds. We arrived in Belden, a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, famed for its "Raves." We went to the restaurant/store and bought ice cream treats and cold drinks.
While enjoying a drink, Brenda a trail angel walked up and offered us a ride to her house - "Little Haven" - another hiker retreat, a place of rest, a place to shower, and a place to eat before shipping out for our next leg to Sierra City.
The trail angels are dense in this area of the trail, and for that we are very thankful. We have been enduring some of the hardest days on the trail the last two weeks, and any bit of trail magic we get restores us and inspires us to continue.
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