Thirst and Wind

I am so very thirsty!! Big time thirsty!!

I know, in my last post I happily stated that we were so lucky this year and have plenty of water. But one has only plenty of water if one is smart enough to thoroughly plan ahead!

I really thought I had learned my lesson (see previous post with the “LOST series water cache thingy”.)
But apparently I had not…

Now I am here on this long descent from Mount San Jacinto past Idyllwild, and I am thirsty like never before. I had planned to get water out of a stream at mile 200.76. The water report has an entry from April 21, stating: “flow between two rocks below crossing, you need a scoop, there is a big dead butterfly floating in the pool.”

I should have known that the words ‘scoop’ and ‘dead butterfly’ in one sentence in a water report do not make for a happy hiker: the dead butterfly has meanwhile twenty dead other things with wings for company, they all float face down in a thick pink-brown-yellow soup, which was maybe once water 8 days ago.

So no water here, and all I have left is 6 dl.


And I need to walk 3 more miles to the next camping possibility (rocky, steep terrain here!). I will need to cook and camp tonight with only 6 dl of water. It will not be fun.

Have I mentioned that I am very thirsty?

It is getting dark, and I have 21 miles (34 km) of which were about 800 m elevation up and 1500 m elevation down in my feet today. The brain does a funny thing when it realizes that it is not going go get enough water soon. It plays tricks and sends urgent messages to the mouth. The mouth gets super dry and craves for water. The water alarm goes off!


Alright, going to set up camp, cook only with 3 dl, drink 2 dl, and spare the rest for the next three miles tomorrow until I reach the (apparently) reliable water source.
Going to sleep early so that I can forget (or perhaps rather ignore) the thirst.

So far so bad.

It gets dark, a rather strong wind picks up. My Big Agnes tent holds against it well. Two hours later, the wind gets REALLY strong. Scarry strong. My Big Agnes flapps in the wind like crazy.
I hear people in the other tents talking. Apparently one tent just snapped and broke a pole! Oh my.

Steffi, who I am currently hiking with, shouts over to me from her tent:
“Heidi, I am heading down the mountain, I can’t sleep in this wind anyway and I fear the wind will wreck my tent.”

“But it is pitch black dark”, I reply.

“I don’t care, I pack up now and go down to mile 204, where there is water.”

I decide within 5 seconds that I go with her. Have you ever packed your tent in heavy wind, in the dark and in a hurry…? Well I have now!

With the help of our headtorches we find the way down in the black dark. (Must I mention that the battery of my head torch went flat on the way down and that the spares were on the bottom of the pack!)
The warm wind blows oh so strong and makes our waterless mouth soooo dry. I am praying all the way down that the water source may actually have water:

“Please have water, please have water, please have water… “. All the way down.

Two dark and super super thirsty and windy hours later we make it there! A spigot! And it works! I filter a litre right away and gulp it all down. Steffi does the same. It is meanwhile 2 am. Windy down here too but not stormy. We decide to not pitch our tent again but rather “cowboy camp”, which is hiker slang for “just put your ground sheet and your sleeping bag on the floor and go to sleep (despite the rattlers and spiders and other creepy things near by).

What a day! What a night! I do need my sleep now!

Oh and, the blisters between my big toes on both (!) feet are really bad. I am now walking on raw flesh.

Mum: I am going to take my first Ponstan painkiller tomorrow so that I can get on…!

Oh and: the views from Mount San Jacinto (2400 m) right down into the desert were breath-taking!! They have millions of windmills down in the desert… I sure do know why!!


16 replies
  1. Alex says:

    There is an old trick for dealing with thirst in the desert. You need to find a small smooth stone. Quartz is best but any small river rock will do. When you get thirsty and have no water, you stuck that stone in your mouth and suck on it (obviously don’t swallow it). It will trick your mouth and make it salivate, keeping it from drying out. Good luck and thank you for sharing your adventure.

  2. Sandy says:

    Oh Heidi, beim Lesen deines neuen Eintrags ” Thirst and Wind” trocknete mein Mund aus und ich begann leer zu schlucken…halleluja.Und vorhin beim Duschen ist mir einmal mehr bewusst geworden, dass ich meine Haare tatsächlich mit Trinkwasser wasche, ebenso wie das Geschirr, die Wäsche,den Boden etc etc. welch ein Luxus und welch eine Verschwendung. Wasser ist unsere wertvollste Ressource, nebst fruchtbarer Erde.Tragen wir also Sorge dazu. Und dir Heidi wünsche ich ganz viele weniger durstige Hikertage.Die Naturbilder sind jedoch einfach nur gewaltig, beeindruckend,schön…Alles Liebe, Sandy

    • Heidi says:

      Hi Sandy!! Ja gell! Das sehe ich auch so! Hier in der Wüste von Kalifornien wird einem so richtig bewusst, was Wasser für uns Menschen (und Tiere und Pflanzen!) bedeutet! Eine sehr starke Erfahrung (aber einmal reicht mir als Erfahrung…!) Es freut mich sehr, dass Dir meine Bilder gefallen! ;) Liebe Grüsse!! Heidi

  3. Stefan says:

    Wow! Wonderful pictures, exept the picture with your feeds! You need a brack or walk on your hands!!
    For the water i recomend a 🐫 and take care!

    • Heidi says:

      :) yes Stefan! I will make sure and camel up as much as I can! Glad you like my images! This means a lot to me! Soon you will post your own!!

  4. Bert says:

    Ouch, that sounds hard and looks the same. Hope, thirsty in this way will never happen again and the blister (wounds) will heal fast and good.


    • Heidi says:

      I hope so too Bert! I hope I learned my lesson and will not be so foolish anymore to try to save me from the extra three kilos the water weighs. I will make sure to ALWAYS fill up and have three litres at all times. At least for the desert section!

  5. Kathy says:

    Oh Heidi—-my heart goes out to you! This is the section of the trail that Bobby from the plane said is the hardest–he said to just keep telling yourself that it is going to get better–and it’s going to get better pretty soon!! Take care of your poor feet — all your friends are with you in spirit, sending you good thoughts to help you on!!

  6. Carol & Jim says:

    This is an adventure for us as well just reading about your journey. Was so relieved when I read you finally got some water!!! Just wanted to let you know we think of you all the time …. you are SO brave!!!!

    • Heidi says:

      Hey Carol & Jim! So nice to hear from you!! It is an honor for me that you follow my journey! Yes!!! I was very glad to see that spigot!!!


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