May 25: When you are on the trail, things like holiday weekends often go unnoticed. I heard that many hikers were stranded in town, waiting to collect mailed packages. I remembered that it was Memorial Day when checking mileage on a break, and I thought back to my AT hike 2 years ago: we got trail magic 3 times on Memorial Day! I secretly harbored the hope that we'd encounter some trail magic on the PCT, too. No such luck. Sigh.
As I said earlier, this was our longest waterless stretch- 44 miles. There are several ways of dealing with this situation. Firstly, you have to carry enough water. Slim Chance loaded up with 9 liters of water at the last water source. Impressive, but I cannot physically carry 9 liters of water. I'd keel over from exhaustion. So I implement other strategies. Like getting up before sunrise and hiking when it's cooler. And resting mid-day when it's hot. And sometimes night hiking. So I need to drink less. And carry less. Some hikers do not plan as well as Slim and I.
Hiking before sunrise has other advantages besides water conservation. You get to see things like this:
And if there does happen to be a water cache, you hit it early when there is still water available. I hit a cache 6 miles in. I didn't take any more watt with me, but I did drink about a half liter right at the cache. (So maybe there was a bit of trail magic after all) Five miles later, there was a road crossing with a picnic table. I sat down with a bunch of other hikers for a break and a snack. A little while later, Shuffle arrived in a panic. "does anyone have extra water?" We asked if he had seen the cache 5 miles back. He replied that he did, but didn't stop for watt because he thought there would be another cache further on. So now he was stuck with 2 1/2 liters for 30 miles!!
We all analyzed our water situation and another hiker and I each gave Shuffle a little more than a half liter. (I always try to arrive at a water source with 1/2 to 1 liter of water. I gave Shuffle my reserve.)
The next 8 miles were very dry and very sandy. Essentially, we were hiking through sand dunes in a recreational area for ATVs. It was sort of like walking through kitty litter. Not fun. Especially when the hiking trail was near the bike trails and you are stuck breathing on dust. I mean seriously- if you are gonna blow by me and cover me with dust on your quad, the least you could do is bring a case of water or a bag of oranges on the back!! No such luck. Sigh.
Eight miles past the picnic table, there was another road crossing with another possible cache. Unfortunately, this cache had nothing but empty bottles. So I just found some shade and rested for a couple hours. Just before I headed out, who comes up, but Shuffle, again asking if anyone has extra water!! Not a good planner, that Shuffle. ( there was a place 7 miles further on where you could dig a do a seep for water- so he'd be fine)
Peace, love, and trail magic!