Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hurricane Mountain to Snake Creek Gap

Fingers of frost reaching up from the ground

9.3 miles

Water continues to be my major challenge out here. I had thought water would be the least of my worries, going so far as to only bring a liter of carrying capacity and throwing in an extra Dasani bottle at the last minute, just in case. After the first night of camping without water, I realized that a single liter was far too little. I picked up another liter bottle in Chatsworth. (A big Gatorade bottle--water bottles are so cheap, and they come with a free drink inside!)

Two liters is the most I ever carried at a time, on any trail. Including backpacking across the Mojave Desert on the Pacific Crest Trail. But here, it feels barely enough. It's the third night tonight I've camped without water out of a total of five nights on the rail. Half of the water sources listed in my guide aren't running. And there aren't that many to begin with.

The reason I was able to hike so light on the PCT is because of cameling--another of those jargony trail terms that means I could sit still at the water source and drink two liters at a time. When I finally arrived at the only water source today, I drank almost a liter and a half. It takes time to build up belly capacity for water. Unfortunately, it's the one thing I can't convince the dog to do.

He drank a lot of water this morning, but not nearly as much as he needed to in order to make it through another waterless night. As much as I tried to convince him, he couldn't grasp the concept of the next twelve miles being waterless. He drank as much as he needed at exactly that moment and no more. He's carrying his own water now, at least some of it, but it's impossible for him to carry enough of it to be happy. He'd drink two liters without blinking the minute we'd come into camp, if I had it available.

I'm realizing why humans and dogs are such good partners. Dogs take the short view, humans the long. The short view is useful for things like, oh, knowing if there are coyotes circling your camp. The long view is useful for when you have to plan water sources. I see it all the time with him. Even with his food, or running away from the trail. He sees exactly what's in front of him, and no more. It's how I try to see the world when I do yoga. But it's not that helpful when there's any need for a plan.

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