Sierra / by Luke Weisman

Be careful what you wish for.

In the desert the PCT Water Report was everything. At night before bed I'd always check it, and then check it again, to make sure I knew exactly how far I needed to walk to get to the next water source, and how much water needed to be carried. It also informs how sore I'd likely be after making that carry, often twenty miles, which translates into four liters of water, or eight extra pounds on my back, which translates back into soreness. But the best thing about the Report (other than the obvious), is that it makes it easy to plan a day, rough, and painful as it might be.

Fifteen miles into one of those sunny strolls through a waterless section the mind has a tendency to drift, to daydream for a time when water will bemore plentiful, when I won't need to weigh myself down with all this heavy h2o. It starts to asks itself questions, why is water so heavy anyway? Who made these crazy decisions to take this trail through this anyway? Why don't I have a Twinkie in my possession right now? I really want a Twinkie!

Then at mile 710, the Water Report stops, nothing is there, no data at all. That's when the PCT changes completely. That's when water is everywhere!

Snow, slush, frozen snow, streams, creeks, rivers, springs, lakes, frozen lakes, ponds, ice, ice-burgs, mud, puddles, waterfalls. There are sections where water is literally making its way down the trail, turning the path itself into a water way!

With all that water brings three things. Beauty first and foremost. It's unbelievable the places you find yourself, the spots you camp at, the sights you see, the places you stop for lunch. It's beyond compare.

Second wet feet. I've now walked through more snow then I ever have in my eight winters in New York, and let me tell you wet shoes, and therefore wet feet are not good. Ok, obvious I know, no one likes walking with wet feet, but at least in NY you have some semblance of a system that clears things up, and really it's only those slushy street corners where it gets real messy, and even those you can often hop over. You can't hop over ten miles of snow that is in the same condition as those corners, you just have to walk through it.

Third, mosquitos. Fuck mosquitos! No amount of Deet can keep them off you. They can swarm in the hundreds, maybe thousands, and it's a nightmare. The key is to move and keep moving, don't give them the chance to land on you. And whatever you do, choose those nature calling locations very carefully, oh and bring an insect head net.

The walk from Kennedy Meadows to Tahoe, The Sierras, will be something I'll never forget. It was much harder than I thought going in, I found myself in spots that were a more than a little scary, at altitudes that literally took my breath away, there were definite moments of frustration, but I loved every bit of it. Except the mosquitos.