The fruit fairy came in early in the morning, I think it was Mr Braaten. He left fresh fruit and muffins. We mooched around a bit, sorting out our packs and washing out bits of clothes. Cool breeze found a top amongst the loaner clothes which he was a bit too happy in, he would have fitted right in to the party though (and yes, he said it was ok to put this picture on the blog!).
At 10am Mrs Braaten took us back to Belden. We went into the bar there. The plan was to wait out the heat of the day and hike later on this evening when it’s cooler as we had a 14 mile stretch of uphill ascending 5000ft to start with.
The atmosphere was a bit more subdued than yesterday, most likely everyone was hungover! We sat on the deck and watched the world go by – in all of its different shapes and sizes.
There were lots of other hikers around, 5 others came and joined us and we drank beer and ate food for 6 hours. It was so hot, we kept moving around the table into the shade as the sun moved. I was sweating profusely – the sweat literally popping out my head like a cartoon – and I was just sat still in the shade!
I went to the toilet and there was a girl being sick in there. I can’t be 100% sure but I’m pretty sure it was one of the excitable young women.
Around 5pm when we eventually went to leave there were loads of stinky hikers outside who had just rolled into town, Julien, Croomidor, Hawkeye and some others had just finished the 24/24/24 challenge. Hike 24 miles and drink 24 beers in 24 hours. The had made staffs with their cans and I think they are planning to challenge each other later.
We went to a swimming hole, recommend by Mrs Braaten, away from the main crowds before hiking out. By this time it had gotten really cloudy, and although it was still hot and very humid, the river was kind of cold and maybe not as nice as if it had been full sun, but it still cooled me down a bit.
Then at 5:30pm, when we could no longer put it off, we began the 14 mile / 5000ft climb out of Belden. The plan was to see how far we could get before it got too dark. The trail apparently was gradual. It wasn’t. It was pretty steep in places! I think I’ve lost around 50% of the fluid from my body today by sweating it out of my face. And 50% of that has come out my top lip! I’ve a new addition to my pack – my sweat rag, or ‘swag’.
We managed 7 miles before it got dark – and we came across Cave Dave and Johnny Walker already camped. We had been leapfrogging that afternoon with Jay, he kept asking us where we were going to camp, but we didn’t really know. Later I found out that Jay doesn’t want to camp on his own because he has seen 7 bears on the trail so far and one tried to get in his tent!!! It happened at around 1:30am and after he scared it off by throwing a rock at it he sat up all night with a pile of rocks in case it came back! I wouldn’t want to camp on my own after that either!