Jeep path in the desert.
The hike to the cistern area featured the usual: the good, the bad and the ugly. Last night, my ORV neighbors headed out around 8 or 9 p.m. They appeared to use the spot in front of my (hidden) tent as their rendezvous point with their friends. I heard them again around 5 a.m. I’m almost positive they’re elk hunting. Everyone is that I’ve met.

I had a good night’s sleep, despite the cramped, lumpy camping spot. That’s because it was flat, so I didn’t roll to one side or the head/feet. I was on the trail by 7:30 a.m.

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Making My Way to the Cistern

The first several hours on the trail were nice. The temperatures were moderate, there was a nice breeze and the trail was a relatively flat jeep route. It got muddy in several spots (it rained a little last night), and I began to get concerned when I had inches-thick mud on my shoes. But the muddy parts ended quickly, and the gravel scraped off the mud as I walked.

A man and his son stopped to say hi (they were elk hunting) and Cisternoffered me water. YES, PLEASE! It was like Christmas. Now I could drink as much as I wanted. The cistern was 15 miles (24.1 km) from my campsite, so I’d been limiting myself. This is the one thing I hate about hiking in desert climes – worrying about water every second.

A Snafu, Naturally

So after clicking off the miles at a 3 mph pace (4.8 kph), I came upon an intersection that mentioned a spring in 1.5 miles (2.4 km) if you went left. I checked my app and thought the spring/cistern I wanted was 1 mile (1.6 km) straight ahead, not left. So I walked a mile, checked the app again and saw I should have turned. Rats!

I tried cutting the tangent, as the vegetation here is desert scrub. Trail through desert terrain.But there were fences and such in the way, so I don’t think I saved much time, So, yeah, a mistake that cost me 2 miles (3.2 km).

Got to the cistern, which you reached via a marked path that took you down into two ravines. The cisterns were full of cold, clear water. YES! I loaded up in the hopes I could get a good washing at camp, in addition to drinking water.

Heavy Load

When I first started to walk, I thought I couldn’t do it. My pack was so heavy! But I knew I’d carried that much weight before, so I repacked everything and it was much better.

I hiked a few more miles, as there was plenty of daylight left and there’s nothing to do in camp after you eat and wash up, since there’s no cell service here. But when I wanted to make camp, the terrain was inhospitable. There was either stiff, tall grass or lots of rocks or slanted ground.

I finally made camp at a spot just off the trail that was slanted, but I thought not too badly. WRONG. I’m going to be listing to one side all night, which will keep waking me up. But I was just too tired to keep going.

SOBOs Coming

I met three hikers today who were nearing the end of their thru-hikes of the CDT. All guys. No one was interested in scenic routes – just the fastest way to Mexico.

All three guys had the tiniest backpacks and no visible tent. They must be ultra lighters. No wonder they can hike so fast, plus so many miles in a day. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to hike that way, but I need to cut down on my pack weight for sure.


Today’s Miles: 18.2 (29.3 km)
CDT Miles to Date: 168.1 (270.5 km)
CDT Miles to Go: 2,931.9 (4,718.4 km)

My most valuable piece of gear today: my beloved Sawyer Squeeze. It filters water so quickly and easily.

©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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