Today’s miles: 13.3
Total miles: 164.5
Everyone settles down at the RV campground by the posted quiet time of 10pm. Except for two dudes, who sit up for a whole other hour playing music, drinking beer, and having progressively louder conversation. I lie in my tent feeling bitter, but unwilling to confront two drunk men. I’m still up and out by 6:15am, tired but ready to get this roadwalk done. It’s town day.
There are various options for going into towns along this stretch, and I’ve chosen eleven miles on roads down to Concrete, where I will finally get a much-needed shower and some fresh food. After a bit on the formal PNT (also on paved road), I turn south and mentally resign myself to a morning of pavement pounding. The road is slightly curvy at first, but when it straightens out a bit and I have better visibility, I put an audio book on (only one earbud in, so I can be sure to hear cars).
I’m listening to H is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald, and it’s perfect for my current situation. She reads it herself, which is wonderful. The book is a lengthy meditation on nature, grief, wildness, connection, and oh yes, falconry. Last night I texted Cyn that I have become slightly feral, having been outdoors so long with minimal human contact. Today, MacDonald’s book repeatedly considers the word feral, connecting it to ferocious and free but also to fey and fairy. I’m delighted by this collection of terms, and turn them over in my mind as I slowly whittle down my road miles.
Sooner than expected I turn onto Burpee Hill Road, signalling only four more miles to town. And then there is a stop sign. And then a sidewalk! How very strange these things seem. It’s 10:30am. Well, now what? I walk toward a bakery I’ve heard about, but then think to check its hours. Closed on Tuesdays. Damn. I backtrack and make for the burger place. But on their marquee sign, letters say “We will be closed today.” Today as in Tuesday? Is this sign current? I abandon the burger joint and walk a mile west on the rail trail to the pizza place, which is conveniently sandwiched between my motel and the grocery store.
They’ve just opened when I arrive, and I order a giant cold sub with lots of fresh veggies. It’s too hot for pizza. I eat at a table on the sidewalk. Halfway through my lunch, the manager comes out. “Just leave your plate on the table when you’re done, I have to close because the drains are backing up.” Pretty hard to get a meal in Concrete today.
There is some confusion about my motel room, mostly because of the motel’s odd reservation policy that meant Cyn had to reserve it for me while I was on trail without service, and also because no one is at the motel office all afternoon. I’m glad they left my key in a drop box so I can shower (YAY) and rest. I buy a random assortment of groceries — whatever looks good as I walk down the aisles: pineapple chunks, sour cream and onion chips, blueberry smoothie, cocoa puffs cereal and oatmilk. There’s really no point in washing my clothes since I’m just hiking another 20+ miles tomorrow into the next town, where I’ll zero (hike zero miles, i.e., take a full day off). I tell Cyn on the phone before bed that, surprisingly, I don’t feel desperate for a zero. I’m really proud of how my body’s held up these last many days, at least after that initial bout with heat exhaustion/dehydration. What a wild and rugged time it’s been out there.