The last and final day was both jubilant and frustrating. Today’s assignment: Segments 3, 2 and 1. Over the years, I’ve done each of these segments at least 10 times. Because of vehicle logistics, I normally drove to each segment and ran “out-and-backs”, effectively doubling the distance. These three segments were my training ground, in my back yard. I’d done them so many times, I could predict within in minutes how long it would take to cover each segment. I knew where the water was, and more importantly, when the seasonal streams would dry up. I reveled at the stark beauty and bareness of the burn area on Segment 2 and simultaneously cursed at it in the heat of the day when it was devoid of any shade or water.
I knew the climb from the Gudy Gaskill bridge up the backside of Segment 1 would wear me down, and it did. I was late getting to the South Platte River where Segments 2 and 1 meet, and was ready to call it quits. I mulled around for at least an hour, wasting precious daylight, trying to decide if I really wanted to finish the last 16 miles in the dark. I ended up finishing early the next morning, with a total time of 13 days, 4 hours, 11 minutes.
I look back now, and think of this accomplishment and how it affected me then and still does today. I think of the countless people I met on the trail, all of who were just like me – just trying to meet a personal goal.