A Kansas City Girl Thrives in Southern California

I have never in my life put so much conscious effort into my water intake. In the real world, I carry a Nalgene around and fill it up throughout the day. Out here, it’s a different story. I look at my terrain for the day and plan on how much water to take from camp, to fill at water sources, and to drink along the way. I end up drinking a liter every five to seven miles. There have been multiple dry sections of trail where I have to carry enough water for anywhere from 15 to 30 miles. I sometimes find myself thinking: have I peed enough today? Is it the correct color? We just got out of a 28-mile dry section where the water source before setting out was none other than McDonald’s.

I left with 5 and 1/2 liters (11 pounds) of water and hoped for the best.

I figured a liter for hiking the rest of that day, three for the next, and a liter and a half for cooking, brushing teeth, etc. It was the perfect amount, but it sure felt silly holding my Smartwater bottles up to the water dispenser at Micky D’s! I have two Smartwater bottles and three Sawyer bags (a 2 liter, a 1 liter, and a 1/2 liter).

Lizzie tip: Carry your water on the outside of your pack.

My bottles fit in the sleeves of my pack, and the bags fit in my outside pouch. Heaven forbid one pops, none of the items inside my pack will get wet. Others have been not so lucky; I heard of one girl who got her sleeping bag soaked from a popped bladder in her bag. A negative of carrying water on the outside of your pack is that the sun heats it quickly.

Lizzie tip: Kool-Aid bathwater tastes better than regular bathwater.

Let’s face it, carrying water in the desert for long stretches turns water warm, but flavoring it makes a difference. I like crystal light lemonade personally, but there are so many flavor options. Bonus if it adds electrolytes.

Water sources on trail tend to be major pit stops for hikers. The other day we hit the White Water Reserve, a hiker oasis. It was a half a mile off trail, but 100 percent worth the hike. I made it in right when it was getting unbearably hot out and found that they had a wading pool (featured photo). My friends and I spent an hour hanging in the pool before heading to a picnic area to eat. Hiker hunger hit early and we all find ourselves eating constantly.

One of the coolest stops we’ve had so far are the hot springs.

We finished out a 23-mile day with soaking our miserable, blistered feet in blissful water of varying temperatures. I started out in the cool pool and swam around, then hopped into one of the many hot pools. There was a slack line set up across the cool pool that my friend Kevin completed. It would have been heaven if not for the local nudists.

Other updates.

Still no trail name, but I’m OK with that! My friends think I look like a foreign correspondent, but that’s a little to lengthy a name in my opinion. I have the same tramily I’ve had for some time, but I’m constantly being introduced to new faces. I’ve met a few hikers who were also on the AT last year and we’ve bonded over shared friends and memories. I’m already getting sick of tuna and crave ice cream more than ever.

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