PCT Day 2 – Water woes

July 25
Miles hiked: 23.5
Total trip miles: 37.2

I mentioned water in the last post. Namely, that we were carrying lots of it. I think Marc was forever marked by that day last summer when we had to hike 26.2 miles (a marathon!) in order to get to a water source that we weren’t even sure existed. If it hadn’t been for the cooler of Pabst Blue Ribbon and juice left by a trail angel just after Tennessee pass, we might have expired.

He swore that this time nothing like that would happen. We would always have plenty of water on us. Never mind that Guthook’s PCT app has more user input on it , and that the PCT even has a frequently updated “water report” that you can download when you have a cell signal. No, we’d carry lots of water. Burn the grease!

Like the cool thru-hikers we are, we ditched our “water bottles” for Smart Water bottles, which weigh basically nothing and can screw directly onto our Sawyer filters if need be. We’re each carrying 2 bottles: Marc’s are 1.5 liter and mine 1 liter. In addition, Marc carries 2 liters in a Platypus bladder in the outside pocket of his pack, giving him 5 liters total (11 pounds!). He’s convinced that southern Oregon is a desert. He has become a camel.

And indeed, it’s hot and very dry. The trail poufs up at every step, and in front of me Marc reminds me of the Peanuts’ character PigPen. Our legs turn brown. We hike and hike. I’m so tired. Finally at mile 1740.2 we see the road to Hyatt Lake, which we don’t take, and then soon after there’s a heavenly faucet, right on the trail. We find a little spot of shade and dump our packs.

I can tell Marc wants to just quickly stop and then keep on hiking, but I need a rest. Food. I take off my shoes and soak my feet in the tub under the faucet. It’s cool and refreshing. We eat Kind bars and nuts and dried mango.

After a while we carry on. The trail is flat and hot, going through forest, hugging the lake, which we can’t see through the forest, up along a ridge and then over to another lake, which again we can’t see through the forest. In an exposed section I take out my umbrella, which has reflective silver on the outside, and create some shade. Marc thinks the umbrella is silly. I use it here partly to justify its existence. See? I needed it!

We come across a young woman consulting a map at the aqueduct, which you’re not supposed to drink from (chemicals). She tells us she has been fired from her job on a trail crew, and that she has decided to hike to Portland. But my mom doesn’t know, she adds. She’s wearing a strange kind of onesie outfit that provides no sun or bug protection whatsoever and her pack looks heavy. She asks about water. We tell her that Grizzly creek, up ahead, is running, and that there’s supposed to be a piped spring a few miles on that is also running. That’s our destination.

We approach Grizzly Creek and there’s a tent site that looks pretty darn inviting, but we carry on, hiking up and up. I keep checking the app to see if we’re getting closer, and then finally I see a trail off to the right, with a sign saying something about a vet. This must be it! I take the trail and it leads to a road, with a stagnant pond. What?? This isn’t a piped spring! We circle the pond, looking for a spigot. No luck. I feel slightly panicked.

Marc suggests going on, and I feel like I’m going to fall apart. I consult the water report and someone — bless you, whoever you are — has left a comment: “There are 2 junctions. Sign to spring at 2nd junction. If you accidentally take the 1st junction just turn left at the jeep road, hike 0.15 miles to the trail on right.”

Yay! We hike up the jeep road and lo and behold, a lovely piped spring, with lilies next to it! There are a couple of campsites nearby, but it’s pretty swampy (read: mosquitoes). We go back up (on the right trail) to the main trail and there are some other hikers there in a campsite, one lean, mean, skinny and tired-looking “true” thru-hiker who started all the way down in Mexico and survived this year’s epic snow situation in the high Sierra, and another older couple who started in Mexico but skipped over the worst of the snowpack, opting to do it in September instead. We chat briefly, gather water, and set up our tent on a flat site pretty much right next to the trail. The older couple is hiking on for a while after they eat, but we cook our dinner and then hit the sack, with a couple of Advil for a nightcap.

We’re just dozing off when we hear a shout from the trail: it’s that girl, trying to find the spring. Marc tells her to take a right at the sign that says “spring” on it. After a couple of repetitions she seems to get the idea. Later, she puts her tent up next to the gnarly thru-hiker dude’s, but we leave before her in the morning and never see her again. I hope she and her mom are talking again and she made it out okay.

I didn’t take a single picture today.

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