I awoke before sunrise and cooked a full breakfast: oatmeal and hot cocoa! We packed up and filled up our water bottles at the local Fores Service maintained cistern.
Don’t fret: the water from the spigot is clear, but does need filtering. Someof the desert water sources are cisterns like this or are caches of one gallon jugs that friendly people keep filling.
I carry a trail map (Halfmile Maps), Halfmiles PCT App on my phone, and most importantly, DoubleTaps PCT Water Report. The last one contain up to date reports of water conditions on the trail. If you read it soon you’ll see some reports by Dalem — that’s me until I get a trail name.
Well, we planned on hiking 20 miles today and filled up on water when we left. Along the way we past two places where we could (should) have drink up and topped off, but didn’t. It was not as hot and we saw on the map that there was a water cistern at mile 62.4. We planned to be just about by then so we passed up the earlier supplies. For whatever reason I did not read the Water report that clearly states the cistern is dry as bone. I swallowed my last mouthful of the water I had then opened the spigot to refill…. nothing. Yikes! We are in the middle of the desert at noontime with the next nearest water maybe a mile away (ok…) or verified at 6 miles away.
Hoping to find a stream that was flowing a few days ago I started hiking up a dirt road looking on either side for signs of moisture. I hiked 3/4 miles up that hilly road and saw a lot of dusty desert. Dave caught up with me and we decided to head out on the long dry trek to the verified source.
Funny thing, I did not notice my feet were hurting for those 6 miles…
It’s funny that there are two types of yearnings while hiking: the things you cannot get on the trail: ice cream, fresh fruit and veggies, hamburgers and the like. The other yearnings are for simpler things like a flat campsite, no mosquitoes, etc. what I was yearning this 6 miles was drinking water from a cup– not having to suck it through a resistive filter from a bottle.
I made it to the next cistern and while parched I was not in danger. I did drink a liter and a half right away – forget the cup for now, give me water!
I have a few new rules that I follow: download the PCT Water Report every time I have internet, memorize that report for theft Section and always drink up and top off whenever I pass water!
The wind picked up in the afternoon, and I mean really picked up! It kept me cool which is good because I could not use my sun-brella. Dave hiked on ahead and I slowed way down as I traversed the mountain sides. The wind was so strong it pushed me around! I was able to stay on the narrow trail but the wind while cresting passes was crazy!
I had a choice of finding a campsite on the mountainside or trying to hike down to the highway and hitchhike to Julian. I was so exhausted that I found a passable campsite and had that wonderful cup of water- 2 actually! I ate snacks for dinner and sent my first “Camping Here” satellite message and requested a satellite weather report which came back as “5pm 10% chance of rain 11pm No rain, but strong winds.”
Well, the winds are already here and getting stronger and the clouds I see are about 50 miles away on a different mountain range. The passable campsite turned out to be not so much so – the wind blew unblocked off the crest right down the narrow canyon I was in.
I felt rejuvenated after my meal and cups of water, so decided to head on down the trail. Maybe I’ll catch up to Dave and maybe he’ll be in a campsite that can fit two, but as dusk fell I needed to find something better.
I found another narrow ravine with a tall rock face and dead brush that broke the wind a bit. I learned how to setup my tent in crazy wind and quickly threw everything into it to prevent it from blowing away!
My tent is a two-walled type- an inner wall of waterproof bottom with mosquito netting atop. The second layer is a rain fly. I chose to not attach the rain fly as it would catch more of the wind gusts. This worked well and while the whole tent was pushed this way and that in the gusts, it stayed put.
Of course, I was exposed if it started raining, but the stars were out and it was well past 5pm, right?
At 10:30pm it started raining. It was still gusting like crazy but I got the rain fly attached before everything got too wet. Luckily my tent stakes held in the sandy soil and my tent poles took the punishment.
The rain and wind cleared sometime in the night. Wow, “water” is the word for the day!
Thanks for reading!