Cool Water

Welcome to our new friends from Oregon, Maryland, and the Virginia cycling club.  We continue to meet new folks as we hike the Appalachian Trail and share our story of the Hike For John.

In the last post, we shared about our weight loss and the food-calorie dilemma.  This post deals with a very important aspect of our hike – water.  Just to be clear, there are no spigots along the A.T.  Finding, obtaining, and purifying water is a priority every day on the trail.  Because water is heavy, hikers must choose how much water to carry, taking into consideration the temperature, mileage and elevations to be hiked.  A few hikers each year end up being treated for dehydration, something we want to avoid.

Finding water on the trail is a priority!  The A.T. Companion manual lists streams, springs and other water sources along the trail and the approximate mile marker.  We have also downloaded Guthooks trail app that shows exact locations and descriptions of water sources.  Some springs are piped which makes it easy for Chief to obtain water.  One hiker told me that I trained Chief well to always get the water.  But he is so good at it that I let him continue to excel at this task.  Some water sources have merely a trickle and Chief will use a leaf held by a rock to get a flow in order to fill the “dirty water” bag.  Once in the bag, the water is filtered through a Platypus system into a liter bottle.  That’s sufficient for most people to then drink, but since Chief is extra cautious  he uses a secondary ultraviolet SteriPEN to sterilize the filtered water.

Each day, we need enough purified drinking water for the Camelbak bladder in our backpacks.  There is a hose attached to the bladder so that we can drink water as we hike without having to stop (yea?).  Additional water is needed to heat for our freeze-dried dinner meals, clean dishes and brush teeth.  Because one liter of water weighs about 2.2 lbs., it is important not to carry more liquid than is needed until reaching the next water source.  Only ONCE did we run out of water about six miles short of a source.  It was a 90 degree day and tough terrain – a horrible lesson learned!

Recently, we felt like we were living large by adding a little flavor to some of our drinking water, such as cold brew tea, lemonade and Gatorade.  Chief needs some calories anyhow so it’s a good excuse to try a little variety! Besides, we have hiked 861 miles and that’s cause for celebration!

As we prepare for Day 70 to hike into the Shenandoah National Park, the water sources become less frequent.  We are now hiking 16-20 miles per day so proper hydration is critical.  That will require careful planning on our part – or Chief’s part – so he can continue to excel and we can be…

Well watered, Chief and Toad


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