Putting one foot in front of the other with pain in each step, I finally arrived at a flat clearing near the creek. I let go of the trekking poles and watched them fall to the ground in opposite directions. I dropped my backpack to the ground. Next I pulled out my sleeping pad and laid flat on my back, prying my shoes off my aching feet. Staring at the sky, I felt sorry for myself and the pain this 18.8 mile day (with over a mile of elevation!) gain was causing me.