Hiking The Pacific Crest Trail: Day 43
This is our last stretch in the desert before hitting Kennedy Meadows – entry to Sierra Wilderness. This was also the hardest stretch for us on the trail so far. We have been mentioning in the previous posts about the water situation in the desert, how scarce it is and that we follow a mile by mile water report which tells us where is the next reliable water source. In the desert, the water report is as important to have as your map to know where you can get reliable water, is the flow of water sufficient to fill up, etc.
Rugged Terrain of West Mojave Hillside
In this last section, there is a 42 mile stretch that does not have any natural flowing water sources. Everything is dry. 42 miles is a lot, and it could take some people 3 days to hike that distance.
Wildlife and Water Cache on PCT
Luckily Serge and I have been on an incremental schedule to increase our mileage to prepare ourselves for the Sierra mountains so by this time we were averaging 20 miles per day. The 42 mile was a doable distance to complete in 2 days. The problem was that we had to carry 2 days worth of water in the hottest and driest part of PCT and our packs could only fit 8 liters at a time. To put this number into perspective, 4-6 liters is how much we drink each in a day, and here we had to cut our water intake almost by half.
On the first day we started our hike at 5am and by 9:30am temperature was over 100F°. Around 11am we found some shade under a Joshua tree and spent the next 5 hours following the shade from the sun and moving around the Joshua tree to stay cool throughout the day. We also had to carefully ration our water for the next two days.
We got into our camp around 9:30pm and one of the hikers yelled out that there was a water cache. We immediately went to check out the cache and found over 30 gallons of water under a Joshua tree. We dropped our packs and started chugging water for the next half our. We did not even want to eat dinner because we were getting full on water. Words cannot describe how happy we were. In moment like these, you come to realize, how little sometimes we need to be truly happy.
Around 11pm a car rolled up to the camp site via the accessible dirt road and a guy came out to go check on the cache to see if it needs to be refilled. The next morning when we woke up, the car was still there and we got to meet and thank the Trail Angel who maintains this cache. His name was Devilfish and he also hiked PCT few years back and currently lives in Seattle. He decided to dedicate few months out of his summer and come to Mojave to maintain this cache on the most treacherous water-less stretch on PCT. Again, these people are amazing.
The next morning we felt extremely re-energized! After finally quenching our thirst! We were ready to take on another water-less stretch! This time, our packs were 10lb lighter, which made a huge difference! Also, we were entering higher alpine terrain, where temperatures are much cooler and so much more comfortable.
Toward the end of the day, we were pleasantly surprised by a trail magic from two fellow hikers who hiked PCT couple years back.
As we were getting closer to Kennedy Meadows, we have been on the trail for almost 7 days and have not encountered a single stream or a river for a very long time now. So when Serge first saw the crystal clear Kern River, without any hesitation, he jumped into the water and began swimming. I quickly followed as well!
Once we reached Kennedy Meadows, we decided to spend a full day there, to rest and prepare for our longest and the most difficult stretch on the PCT. After hiking 700 miles, the “Hiker Hunger” has already kicked-in! So once at Kennedy Meadows, we ate, ate and ate…