There's a hike I used to do in Oregon. It was 20.5 miles around Waldo Lake in the Willamette National Forest. If you follow the link, it will take you to a satellite photo, and you can see the scar in the forest. From so far up, it looks like a shiny pink scar on the human body. But it wasn't a terrible radio flyer accident that caused this. It was a forest fire caused by some moron who needed a smoke.
I generally took three days to do the hike. I would start at the southern tip of the lake, and I would reach the scar by the evening of the second day. The first five miles of the third day took me through that scar. It was fascinating to see the forest year by year as it began to recover. At 5500 feet, the hike was already moderately difficult for my little asthmatic lungs, but without the cover of shade, the challenge increased. Gradually, then quickly, evergreen trees would appear on the horizon, and then there's just 8 miles to go. It's still a reasonable distance more with all the climbs and the pack, but I know one of the most difficult distances is over.
Thinking of that hike now, I feel like I just came out of the, well, un-woods. I've mentioned here a "side-project" that's been eating up much of my sanity and my time, and today was a big milestone completion. My colleague and I enjoyed some celebratory hamburgers and shakes, and I watched two hours of television.