The long waterless stretch

I thought I had this 30 mile section all planned out to avoid the heat of the day. I started well with my 3:45am wake up call. It already felt warm so I jumped out of my sleeping bag, boiled some water, had my stock standard coffee and oats and was ready to roll before 5:30am. I had around 4 litres of water with me which I knew would be a stretch if the cache was completely empty, but carrying anymore would’ve meant that my slower pace would require the additional litre anyhow.

The sky was a stunning shade of blue this morning and the views of Mount Lassen would be the last we would see of it heading north on the trail. I was able to put in four miles before I realised I had good cell reception for the first time in days, then I got myself a little distracted with a few phone calls and blog updates.

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By the time I got moving again I was shocked to see it was already 10:30am. Where had the time gone? I thought I still might be able to make the water cache for a late lunch but even though the grade of the trail was relatively flat, miles were ticking over at a slow pace and my feet were still adjusting to the new shoes.

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To encourage a bit more of a pep in my step I listened to the soundtrack of River Dance, which I would try and fail to fall asleep to when I was young, because I would always end up moving my feet to the music. The first song had the desired effect, but the rest just seemed to zap my energy further. Yesterday afternoon I listened to the entire Moulin Rouge soundtrack which got me teary but also lifted me for the last 5 miles of the day. I’m not sure what’s happening to my taste in music out here but I seem to be craving motivational power ballads to help push me down the trail. Might be time to update the iPod!

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At 13:30 I gave up on reaching the water cache for lunch and stopped on some rocks overlooking the valley below. There was a descent amount of cloud cover and a breeze keeping the temperature down, but an hour later the sun broke through and gave me its full force. I checked my water and realised I only had about one litre of water and less than half a litre of Gatorade. I was still 5 miles from the cache, which meant I was 20 miles from the next sure water source. Most people I’d spoken to said the cache would be stocked, but I suddenly realised I was in deep trouble if it wasn’t. I was going to be lucky to reach the cache on the water I still had left. I was cursing myself for such a careless execution of my strategy which had fallen by the wayside, finding me hiking with low water right in the middle of the day. Grrr.

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I was breathing through my nose and adopting all the strategies I’d picked up for desert walking at kick off. Just when I was starting to panic a little I came across a service road with a Forest Service vehicle parked on the side. There were also two big blue water containers left there for hikers by a trail angel. I yelled ‘WATER’ and the five blokes in the truck all got out to see what the commotion was about. We got chatting PCT and they offered me a cold bottle of water and Gatorade! I couldn’t have been happier. They were on standby for lightning strikes and until they told me that I didn’t even realise there was a storm a fair distance but in sight range behind me.

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With my fresh new liquids I felt like I’d be alright if the cache didn’t come through with the goods. I needn’t have worried though as when I arrived a few miles later the cute tree covered cache was full with gallon jugs of water, chips and cold beers in the cooler!

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Despite wanting to stay well hydrated I couldn’t go past a cold beer. I was soon joined by Berkley Bill and while I cooked dinner we had a good chat over a host of topics, although he constantly reminds me how boring I am and never seems to want to listen to the end of my stories. Hmmm. 🙂

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I’m having good timing with trail angels recently because while I was at the cache Aloha, Toots Magoots and Tears for Beers arrived to restock the chips and Gatorade. I had met them before at the Red Carpet Cache all the way back near the Andersons. I got to thank them again first hand before heading off for a couple more miles before dark. It’s almost 23:00 and once again well past my bedtime. There’s something running around outside my tent, but if it’s a mountain lion it’s going to have to make its own fun tonight, I’m off to sleep!

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7 thoughts on “The long waterless stretch

  1. The whole Trail Angel thing is too amazing and I still can’t fathom who or how they go about it. How wonderful these people are – so special human beings.

    • Trail Angels come in all styles and do it for all sorts of reasons. For me, it’s a way to pay-it-forward.

      Sometimes it is a word or two of encouragement or a quote to motivate posted on their blog.

      When the herd is in Oregon, magic come is the form of a crisp, juicy apple from my backpack and/or a cup of real drip coffee.

      For one young woman last year it was simply seeing a familiar face on the trail, someome who knows how tough it is, has no judgements, and acknowledges her success just a few miles before the Canadian Border.

  2. Looks like you had a Tecate beer? Tecate (on the border, in Baja California) is just 14 miles from Campo by road, maybe 8 miles from the PCT southern terminus as the crow flies. Back to your roots! And as of Hat Creek Rim, you must seeing Mt. Shasta, right?

    Cheers to having walked the full length of the Sierras, and hope the Cascades are a blast!

  3. Hi darling, yes amazing how much time gets in to phone calls and special making the blogs. That’s why it is extraordinary how you are making those amazing blogs with the photos and videos. It is heaps appreciated. Hopefully you can get some new music on your blog, that Irish dancing won’t do. I hope that the Trail Angels get a big horay when the trail has finished, they have been outstanding. Enjoy all, love Mutti xxoo

  4. Congrats on making it through one of the toughest sections as far as heat & water go. While you’ll have a bit more tree cover as you go north, it will continue to be hot and dry for much of the rest of California. Looks like thunderstorms continue to be a possibility through Saturday. Be aware and careful of dry lightening. http://www.krcrtv.com/weather/weather-forecast-hotter-threat-of-thunderstorms-today/-/14286132/21140768/-/5fvo93z/-/index.html

  5. Muk Muk – I LOVE your blog. I have been reading Carrot’s ever since she started the PCT, and I just found yours. Hiking it is a lifelong dream for me. This summer, I’m living vicariously through you and your fellow hikers! Thanks for letting us come on your journey.

    Good luck in the Cascades! My dad has hiked that section and I’ve heard it’s beautiful. Have fun! – Claire

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