Today is different. Water is so scarce in this part of California that the PCT association organizes a live water report. They basically crowd source data on each water source and if it is flowing, what the quality is, etc. It is maintained on a Google doc so you can either print it out or view it live. I have had to view it live because water sources are drying up constantly.
I have just entered a stretch where so many water sources have dried up that there is 30 miles between sources. And I actually screwed up my planning so I am carrying 12 liters of water over 41 miles. That’s about 24 lbs just in water.
Let me tell you I can feel that weight. I’m only carrying 3 1/2 days of food, otherwise it just wouldn’t physically fit inside the pack.
The hiking strategy changes when you are carrying that much water. Instead of hiking all day, I will be walking only in the mornings and evenings and taking an extended siesta during the day. I hiked about 17 miles this morning, 12 of that with all the water. The plan was to hike until 2 and then stop for the afternoon. But at about 1:45 I stumbled across a meadow with a single oak tree in it about 300 yds off the trail, so I made a beeline for it. I was not the first to see the tree, as the grass was worn down all the way to it and under it.
So here I sit under the only shade tree I have seen since about 9 AM, taking a nap and fixing late lunch/early dinner. I charged the phone up and slept for about an hour.
There is a very cool breeze, so I am actually wearing my rain jacket just to stay warm. You read that right, I am wearing a jacket in the desert in the middle of the day because I have found a wonderful shade tree. The rocks are radiating heat still, so I know it’s still hot on the trail itself. I will wait until about 5 or 6 PM, then I will saddle up and hike another 5 hours or so, the last 2 being in the dark. All this just to avoid the heat. I will get up before 4 tomorrow and start hiking before the sun comes up and hike until noon or 1 PM. I should be able to make it to within about 5 miles of the next water, which is a stocked cache of gallon jugs in the woods.
I can tell I’m not too far from Los Angeles because the entire Western sky is a soft glow. To the east it’s pitch black and I can see a good number of stars in that direction.