Funny thing happened that morning, I forgot to pack my tent inside my backpack, and I just strapped it on above my sleeping pad.... which worked great. Something I repeated for the rest of the trip. Saved me space, and kept my weight closer to my hips.
So, I went up. 1500 feet over 2 miles of beautifully switch-backed trail. I was feeling tired, and slow, and was definitely plodding as I climbed, but every time I looked back down over my shoulder, the view kept getting better.
I found my pace (I was definitely the tortoise for this trip) and kept rolling up the switchbacks. I wish I would've counted them.
After about 45 minutes, I was above Upper Ottoway lake, as the path turned slightly northward and headed straight up to Red Peak Pass.
Only once on the climb did I force myself to stop due to over exertion, after 2 full days on the trail, I finally found my agonizingly slow pace which let my breathing and my heart rate keep up with my ascension.
It is always tough to keep your head up while hiking, especially uphill, staring at each step to be sure of footing as you go up. I also made a conscious effort to not try to guess how far I had left, as it always seemed to slow me down. Suddenly, I looked up as the ground flattened ever so subtly, to see how far I had to go... and dropped a huge F-Bomb.
I climbed up on a rock and took that picture, and decided to sit and have breakfast.
The view was incredible. As I sat, another fellow rolled up to where we were, and then the twosome of Aaron & Krystle.
The four of us chatted and enjoyed the amazing scenery.