Cowboy camping at the Acton KOA (PCT mi 444.3), walked 25?? miles today
Got up and out by 7:15, walked the first two miles or so with Andy, who it turns out is a huge Manchester United fan and goes to England to see matches about once a year. He was at the second leg of the Real Madrid tie this March, so we talked about the Nani red card, then other soccer-related stuff. Good for me to get that out sometime, otherwise it all bottles up in my head. After a few more miles, took another road-walk poodle dog bush detour of indeterminate distance that skipped 9 miles of PCT. Would've been over sooner except that I got lost wandering around an abandoned/burnt-out prison camp for a time. Once I located the camp's helipad and its commanding prospect of the hills, was able to figure out the road bed I was supposed to be walking on.
Even after the detour was over, that shit (the poodle bush) was everywhere and the trail was overgrown with other weeds and falling apart for long stretches. Wildfires suck. (This is all from a 2011 fire.) We could see the new one burning big off in the distance to the NW. Literally a half-mile after the poodle bush let up, I was still scanning for it when I noticed I was in the middle of a huge stand of poison oak. Arb Crew at Carleton confirmed that I have a urushiol allergy, so even though someone tried to tell me that you can react to poison ivy but not poison oak, I suspect my legs will get itchy in the next few days, regardless of whether all the poodle bush had any effect on it.
Was walking with a French-speaking Swiss guy named Julian for a time, we got to the North Fork ranger station and its water at about 2:30pm and found literally a dozen other thru-hikers hanging out there in the shade. Most of them I knew already, some I didn't. All of them planning on this KOA for the night. Morale was clearly low and you could feel the realization sinking in that some days, like today, the trail isn't going to be very fun or interesting, might even be actively miserable for awhile. At least for now, there are fun things in the future (the Saufleys tomorrow, town food delivered to the KOA tonight), but in the future when people feel low there might not be anything but a few more days of walking to look forward to. I'm aware that it can happen, and that the best possible solution is to keep moving, but maybe others are just seeing it now.
Last 8 miles were the hottest on the trail so far, was probably in the mid-to-high 90s. Didn't matter at all that it was all downhill, I could feel the heat everywhere. Around 6:30, got to the KOA, which is kind of a shithole, but they did have ice cream and Dr. Pepper and cold Vitamin Water in the camp store. You could also call for delivery pizza, which I did. Much like in Big Bear, I ate 80% of a 16" pizza by myself, only this time it just made me feel satisfied but not even full. So this is going to get exciting in a month or so. Chilled around the picnic tables and in the camp hot tub for a bit, am calling it a night now. Got to get up early tomorrow and do the ten utterly shadeless miles to Agua Dulce before the temp climbs to the forecast high of 99.