First order of business today: descend 6,000 feet across 6 miles in order to wind up in Belden in time for breakfast.
Once I was there, we stopped in for breakfast and I got chicken-fried steak -- a decent calories/dollar deal.
In Belden, I ran into this girl Stretch that I hadn't seen since Tehachapi, which was neat. She joined Haymaker and I for breakfast and we all caught up about what we'd been up to, what the trail was like (she had skipped around, waiting for the Sierras to thaw), and what our plans were going forward.
All in all, a good breakfast.
Then Haymaker felt the need to make hay, and went back to the trail. I figured that if I stayed for lunch, then I'd win on two fronts: I wouldn't need to carry that food and I would also get a cooked lunch!
So that's what I did.
While I was eating lunch, a few biker gangs rolled in and hung out, which was .... interesting. These weren't weekend warrior people -- they seemed like the real deal. I felt like an extra in Sons of Anarchy. Belden is a strange place.
After lunch, it was time to hit the trail, in the heat of the day. Ahead of me was a 14-mile long climb up a few thousand feet. Oof.
Thankfully, a mile in, I found a glorious swimming hole! I bathed (of sorts), did laundry (of sorts), and generally just hung out in the sun.
Afterward, I resumed the brutal climb, ultimately finishing way up on top, at mile 1,298.00 -- I'll hit the midpoint tomorrow!
What a day.