Day 23

25.7 miles hiked + .3 to Acton KOA

444.3 total

I wake 5ish in the morning, already I can feel the sun heating up.  Gonna be hot!  I get ready quickly and am on trail by 5:20.  I forgot there’s a little uphill right at the start and I am just sucking at it, have to take breaks to catch my breath.  A trail runner comes by, is concerned.  He does not seem too convinced that I’ve managed a couple thousand trail miles breathing like this.  What can I do?  It only gets minimally better as I get more in shape, but Western doctors found nothing wrong with me.  I see him on his way back and he’s clearly surprised that I am way out ahead of some other hikers I’ve since passed.  What can I say? I’m about twice as fast on flat/downhill as uphill.

This trail is not helping things, however, it’s just incredibly overgrown.  Seriuously, people?  This is me on the trail facing forward.

Anyway I go on, start crusing.  I get to a part where it crosses a dirt road.  I look for where it goes back to the trail, but I don’t see a sign.  I guess it joins?  I don’t know, I’m rocking out to music, and following, then passing another girl who is still on the road.  I look at my GPS, I’m like 500 feet off trail.  Whoops.  I head around the bend where it should be a little closer and try to peer around for the trail.  I can’t see it anywhere.  In the meantime the other girl pulls up.  It’s Susan, aka 007 (tho bashful about this); she also thru’ed the AT last year.  I’m about to turn back and Susan to bushwhack when we see a hiker way above us.  The trail!  The trail!  Whoops.  Gotta pay more attention.

I chat with Susan as we head towards the North Fork Ranger Station, where everyone plans to lunch and siesta.  She is pretty mild mannered and also extremely bad-ass, having not only done the AT but also some other solo travels as well, including a bike ride from South Africa to Tanzania.  Wow!  She is doing the Peace Corps in the fall as is my friend Nick; she’s going to Morocco, however, rather than Macedonia (her 2nd choice).  Then I see the station way off in the distance, realize I have to poop, and rush off.  Whoops, sorry for being rude.

After my detox I head over to the shade, where hikers are gathered like migrant animals at rest.  Oh wait, we are that.  After a while I realize everyone is drinking sodas- the ranger station has them for sale!  I get a root beer which is not something I ever crave but seems really amazing at the moment.  I try to sleep but the wind is just blowing dirt in my face.  After a while I give up, pack up, and hike off.  8 miles to go, I can do this!

It’s too windy for the umbrella and I’m feeling not TOO hot so I go for a while risking sunburn.  But it’s quite hot!  And some uphill I didn’t think would affect me so much, not to mention dodging all the poodle dog bush that can give you a burn.  But sure enough I started slowing down.  I wasn’t feeling too frustrated but then Daydreamer caught up and passed, then some other hikers.  Oh well.  Let it go, the KOA isn’t going anywhere.

I get down to the road not too late, around 6.  It’s been another big day for me, I am pretty pumped.  I go to get yet another soda (soda multiple times in one day!  What is this trail?!) and Gatorade, it’s hot and I’ve earned it, sugar be damned, and also the box I’ve mailed.  They don’t have it.  I don’t understand, I mailed it from LA, double checked the address.  It’s the second box gone missing.  Well, I didn’t save the confirmation and there’s nothing I can do.  

So I do the only other thing one CAN do in this situation: get everyone together for a group order for Chinese.  There’s no cell reception but my new phone apparently works on Wi-Fi?  I almost lose the connection but in place the order.  It’s happening!

In the meantime a ton of hikers congregate.  We’re not the only congregation here however; there’s some sort of Korean Catholic church festival going on.  A rock band is playing unintelligible songs but finally goes into “Hotel California” and jams out.  There are also random Mexican families blasting banda music, associated White trash locals, others of Eastern European descent who take over our preferred campsite, cowboy camping with huge pillows and comforters.  The band stops and Korean karaoke starts, and these guys are not talented (they also don’t let me join in).  Well, if it couldn’t get any weirder, it does: it’s movie night at the KOA and we all have to suffer through A Bee Movie starting Jerry Seinfeld, who we unanimously agree is the Worst Voice Actor Ever.

The movie ends but the party is just getting started for a group of Korean parents partying near their hibachi.  I pull my fleece hat over my eyes to blackout the flood light that is pointed in my direction.  I sleep.

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