21.6 miles (Miles 525.6 – 547.2)
LA Aquaduct PCT Mile 525.6 – PCT Mile 547.2
I got thirsty today… in the Mojave desert. It was hot. It was dry. We climbed. We sweat. We nearly ran out of water. It was tough. Yes, it was totally dramatic. Most of this is true, but the majority of the drama was only in a 6-mile section of trail.
We started out walking the flat dirt road that is the PCT next to the aquaduct. It was a continuation from yesterday afternoon. Devilfish hiked with us for a while, and it was nice to have his company. We all decided that instead of “aquaduct,” it should be called awkward-duck. Yeah… we may have been getting delirious just a bit. It was the result from a long discussion about the origin of the word, how it doesn’t make much sense, and its pronunciation. What else is there to talk about on a long, flat stretch that goes on for almost 10 miles? Awkward ducks, that’s what!
Oh! We came across this today:
Yeah, I don’t have any idea what’s up with that! We did come to the quick conclusion that this is NOT a PCT cache. There were random jugs with different shades of yellow and orange liquid in them, a jar with stained cloths, and three metal spoons… next to a big pile of berry-filled animal poop. None of us out here are that desperate… yet. Thank goodness!
When we finally parted from the “awkward-duck,” we entered into a windmill farm. We weaved through the farm, and got to get really close to the giant turbines. They were barely moving in the morning, but by the time we were almost through they’d all picked up speed. Fascinating things…
And so… about those really dramatic six miles… we both thought they were the toughest six of the hike so far. The Mojave was already hot at 9am, so we knew it was going to be tough. We cameled up with as much water as we could carry yesterday, and hoped for one of the two caches to still have water left. If both failed, our water report listed a faucet 10 miles from where we camped that tasted like sulfur… but it was water. We hiked for water today, and I was getting low.
The first cache was just a few jugs and was empty. We hiked on to the second one which was a giant jug that must hold 40 gallons, as well as several jugs under a small lean-to. All empty. That’s okay… we know not to rely on these just in case. To the faucet! After both Tears and Devilfish checked it out, it was determined that this was our third failed water for the day. It didn’t even have a drip you could fill from. Crap.
We were six miles from the next water, which was a stream listed as 1″ deep on our water report. In the Mojave. Please, God… let this have water! Tears had two liters left and I had one. It was 11:00 and getting hotter. We hit it. We started climbing in the hot sun. We tried conserving water, and we were sweating. We struggled as we dragged our tired bodies along the trail… then finally, after six grueling miles – we looked down and saw water! When we got there we joined about eight other hikers under a shade (!) tree. We stayed from 1:30 until 4:30. We drank lots, ate, napped, and recovered. It. Was. Awesome. A life-saver!
We ended our long day with another tough climb, but it was a more reasonable temperature, and now we’re happily laying in camp with our feet up and bellies full. Tomorrow is Tears’ birthday, so I plan to surprise her with cupcakes and candles. The cupcakes might be totally destroyed in the bottom of my food bag, but I think that will add to the charm of a thru-hiker’s birthday cake. :)
Tonight I’m gonna put my love on sweating. It’s a good thing I love to sweat, too, cuz we’re doing a LOT of it out here!