PCT mm 68.4 – Magic shade tree

Morning in the Desert is quite peaceful.


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.

Could that be a shade tree off in the distance?

Yes, that is a lovely shade tree. I think I’ll have a rest.

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.

Great place for lunch and a nap.

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.

Very good camouflage in the desert.

I got going again at 6 PM as planned, but did not hike as far as planned.  After it got dark, it was much cooler, but the hiking is a little slower, so I only hiked until 9:30 when I came to a road that had good flat camping spots.  The entire evenings hike was on steep slopes with nowhere to camp, so when I saw a good spot, I thought it best to call it a night.  Carrying this much water is taking its toll.
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.
I will try to get up before 4 so I can make good tracks tomorrow before the sun shuts me down.  I can tell the pack is getting lighter as I drink down some of the water.  I’m pretty close to a normal load now.

My socks keep my feet clean, but not my toes, and the dust goes straight up my pants legs.


1 Comment

  1. Harriett Dame

    May 31, 2016 at 5:54 am

    Boy! You are really having one heck of an experience, aren’t you. You are such a good planner and I am really proud of you.

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