1312 total miles
Late starts plus 15 mile uphill with 5000+ ft of elevation gain do not equal a big mile day. The late start was due to eating breakfast at the Belden Town restaurant which didn’t open until 8 and had very slow service. But it really didn’t matter.
At first I was surprised at how well brushed the trail was. After about 2 miles I saw why. 3 forest service workers were eating lunch in the middle of the trail with their weed wacker laying next to them. The rest of the way was completely different. Brush growing up to my eyeballs and sometimes making my feet impossible to see. In 2009 the way down to Belden looked like this. In a few days hikers will have a nice trail again.
On another note….. I had cell service earlier today and found out that my friend Dave Burton had died this morning. He had been living with ALS for the last year and a half. I had met him near the Gila River when I hiked the CDT in 2012. When I hiked the AT last year he became my beer sponsor and bought the first round of beer in celebration of crossing each state line. He was an incredible person and I feel fortunate to have had him as a friend. He taught me so much about living and dying. When I went home last week I was able to see him and say goodbye. He was an expert in aspen trees. I will never be able to see one without thinking of him. Goodbye dear friend.