Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 35: The Hunt For Clean Water

Crossing Highway 87... for the third and last time!
May 17: Today was largely uneventful. I've hit my stride. I could wake up in the morning and break down camp practically in my sleep. My body has toughened up. Oh, there's still soreness here and there, but nothing is particularly painful. The temperatures weren't absurdly hot, and the terrain was largely flat. All-in-all, a pretty uneventful day.

Maybe even a little boring. There were a lot of pine trees, which are pretty to look at--but they largely obscured any views that I'd otherwise have. The trail mostly followed gravel roads which are easy to walk on, but not especially interesting either.

Throughout the day, I saw maybe half a dozen mountain bikers, but they peddled on by and never stopped to chat, nor did the two ATVers I saw. In all, I saw close to a dozen people, but none of them were on foot or stopped to chat. You could tell it was a weekend with all these people on the trail--I usually see nobody so seeing nearly a dozen is quite a lot!

Water isn't as big of a problem along this section either. The stock tanks are still muddy and nasty, but they're more common here so I didn't have to carry as much during the day.

Near the end of the day, I decided to camp near Pine Spring because springs are almost always better than stock tanks and my biggest challenge of the entire day was just trying to find this darned spring! It was a tenth of a mile off trail according to the data book, which isn't much. But there was no trail or marker pointing the way, and I wound up missing it. Using my topo map, I knew approximately where it was located and followed a road, looping around where I thought the water should be and eventually found an empty water tank. I was a little discouraged at that--the data book seemed to suggest that the water source was fairly reliable and the metal tank was completely and totally empty. Maybe that wasn't the spring?

I wasn't worried about not finding the spring, though. There was supposed to be a reliable stock tank another mile or so up the trail, but I really preferred spring water which--usually--was a lot clearer and had less opportunity to get contaminated.

So I continued the search for the spring, following a fence eastward, but that didn't lead anywhere and I turned around and followed it westward where I eventually found a nice pool of water. The spring! It was practically right next to the empty metal tank--I could see the tank from the spring, but the spring was low and slightly uphill and out of view from the tank.

I probably spent 20 minutes looking for that spring which was just 0.1 miles off the trail. In fact, I could see the trail from the spring! I was a little annoyed with how difficult it was to find, but also a little proud of myself for my perseverance. I did find the spring, after all. =)

Lots of rabbits on the trail--but they're so hard to get good photos of
because they're so quick and shy! Even this guy, the photo is grainy
because I had to zoom in so far to get it. If I tried walking any closer,
he'd hop away. (It didn't help that he was in the shade either!)
Peace, dude!

A rare photo of me hiking on the trail. Of course, since I was by myself, I had
to use the 10-second timer on my camera and after this photo was taken,
walk back to pick up my camera. So this section of trail--I hiked three times!
'Twas a very flat day of walking!
There were a lot more stock tanks along the trail, but a lot more of them
also seemed to be dry.

Sheepherders Tank
Lots of walking on gravel roads today. *nodding*

I guess they really wanted to make sure cattle didn't get through here.
They installed both a gate and a cattle guard!
If someone hadn't created this giant arrow out of logs, I totally
would have missed where the trail turned off the gravel road here.
Wild Horse Tank
It's like someone created a little fort out of branches around these trees.
I wonder if it might be a hunter who created a blind or something?
(Just a guess on my part, though!) It was near Wild Horse Tank and, presumably,
it would be a good place to wait for animals who approach to drink from it.

Apparently, the person who installed this cattle guard didn't realize
that for it to be effective, you need a fence blocking both sides of it!
Otherwise, cattle will do just what I did--walk around it!
The empty water tank that disappointed me when I first found it.
Pine Spring--this is much better! =)
Treating the water--what a hassle!
Sunset near Pine Spring.


Anonymous said...

Seeing all these water sources convinces me virtual hiking is the best thing for me. Even treated - I don't think I could drink that muddy water!

Karolina said...

Gates and cattle guards! =)

Ryan said...

No kissing gates, though!