Friday, September 2, 2022

Day 140: Dead animals in the water... again!

September 7: I woke up and hit the trail at about 6:50am. It only took a few minutes for me to walk over to the water source that I skipped the evening before hoping the cattle would move away by morning, but alas, that plan didn't work. The cattle were still lingering in the area.

I really needed water, however, so now it was time to scare them off. Which I did easily enough.

But when I reached the water tank, I saw that it was almost completely dry with nothing more than an incredibly slow drip from the spring. Watching the drip, I realized it would likely take me an hour or more to collect enough water to get me to the next water source. I really didn't want to wait around for an hour or more.

There's water... but how to reach it?!
The last Guthook comments about the water source--less than a week old--said it was flowing well, so this turn of events was definitely unexpected. I scratched my head a bit, then noticed a small, fenced-off area nearby. I bet that was the spring that fed this water tank.

So I climbed over the fence where I found a large cap covering a hole in the ground filled with that precious liquid called water.

Well, to say it was "filled" with water might be a bit of an exaggeration. There were a couple of feet of standing water in the hole. The problem, however, was that the surface of the water was about 5 or 6 feet down the tube--well outside of my arm's reach! I also happened to noticed a dead squirrel at the bottom of the water. That had to be a terrible way to die. I imagined the squirrel got a little curious, poked its head into the tube, fell to the bottom, then eventually drowned unable to climb back out. Poor little guy.

See the dead animal at the bottom of the water? Yum!

But now he was decomposing in my water source. If I could just somehow reach the water.

Theoretically, I could just jump into the water. The hole wasn't so deep that I was afraid I'd end up like the squirrel. I could (probably) climb back out. But jumping into the water didn't really appeal to me either.

Then I hit on an idea. What if I tied a water bottle to my trekking pole and lowered it into the water? Could I fill up with water that way? I actually wasn't sure if it would work, but I figured it was worth a shot.

This was my plan for getting water out of the hole!

And it turned out to work flawlessly! When the bottle hit the water, the bottle tried to float up higher on my trekking pole, but it caught on the knobs that locked the length of the trekking pole in place which allowed me to force to the bottle under the water's surface. And when I tried to pull the bottle out, the weight of the water-filled bottle tried to slide off the end of the trekking pole, but the cups at the bottom of the pole prevented it from sliding off.

So I filled up the water bottle and pulled it out quite easily. I repeated the process a couple of times to get more water, and after I finished, I re-covered the hole with the cover and left a comment on Guthook to let people after me know that the water tank was dry but that there was still water in the spring at the source--if you didn't mind the dead squirrel in it nor the fact that it was well outside of a normal person's reach.

I didn't get a cell phone connection here, but when I did get a connection, the comment would post and everyone behind me would have that updated information. 

Later, I went back and read the Guthook comments about the water source and found someone the day after me who posted that the "chipmunk" was removed from the spring. (I guess it could have been a chipmunk. I didn't see it up close!) TwoSpeed also wrote that "There is a nice cover for the box laying beside it. Please use it to prevent more water flavoring from falling in." I'm a little curious how they got the chipmunk out, though. It seemed like the only way to get it out would be to jump into the hole, but he (she?) wrote they creatively used a trekking pole and some rope to get the water out. Perhaps they were able to lasso the chipmunk with the rope? I may never find out....

Another week later, feralhikes reported that the water is "collectible if you have long arms or an assistant to hold your feet" which also gave me a chuckle. They didn't say which method they used, but I'm not sure anyone had arms long enough just to reach the water!

Anyhow.... once I'd manage to collect enough water to get me through the day--there were no other water sources expected for about 20 miles or so--I finally got started hiking.

The day's hike was relatively uneventful. Sometimes it followed real trail. Sometimes it followed gravel roads. It was generally an easy hike, although number of ups and downs surprised me. In all, my GPS recorded about 10,000 feet of ups and downs--which was worse than most days in Colorado. What happened?! Where did all these mountains come from?!

I did run into one other thru-hiker late in the day, named Jazz Hands. Apparently, we had crossed paths on the Appalachian Trail in 2015, but I have to admit I didn't remember meeting him. We hiked the trail in opposite directions, though, and he remembered my stamp from the trail. He asked me about that last water source, and I told him my adventures about retrieving the water. He didn't realize that the spring was nearby, however, and said that he waited around over an hour collecting enough water from the slow drip. And even then, he hadn't really collected as much as he wanted--only as much as felt he really needed, and it really annoyed me how long it took to get the necessary amount of water.

Late in the day, near Flesher Pass, we passed an outfitters near the trail. It was... an unusual setup, and seemingly in the middle of nowhere. How could there be an outfitters out in the middle of this gravel road in the middle of nowhere?!

But there it was. It consisted of portable housing, a tiny place the size of a couple of shipping containers, and it had everything. One person on Guthook joked that you could literally walk in completely naked and buy absolutely everything you needed for a thru-hike, and it wasn't an exaggeration. There was a lot of high-quality goods for any thru-hiker's needs!

Dave's outfitters didn't look like much on the outside, but wow! It's a full-fledged REI on the inside!

The building was off-the-grid. Electricity was supplied from solar panels. I didn't really need any gear, but I did buy three cold drinks and a fig bar and charged my devices. I also cooked dinner at the picnic table in front and threw out my trash. It was a really sweet setup.

The owner of the establishment was named Dave, and Jazz Hands, him and I chatted for the better part of an hour. It was a wondering little stop.

Dave said we were more than welcome to camp there, but I wanted to get in a few more miles and pushed onward a bit more.

A couple of miles later, around 7:00pm, I found a nice, flat spot to camp on a bit of cushy grass. I would have liked to have gone a couple of more miles, but looking at the topo maps ahead, the trail only headed upward and I worried it would soon go above treeline and make it difficult to find a good place to camp out of the wind. And I was sure I wouldn't find a better place to camp than this one. So I decided, somewhat reluctantly, to finally stop for the day. All-in-all, a fine day of hiking!

The views from the high points were pretty darned nice!

Old cabin...

Did I ever share a photo of my official CDT socks? I bought them at the outfitters way back in Leadville, but they still look nice! =)


Mary said...

You've drunk cow water and now you've drunk decomposing squirrel/chipmunk water. What's next? I assume you treated that water after your NWT experience. I'm glad I'm a virtual hiker!

Ryan said...

I think it's always a good idea to treat water if there are any dead animals in it. *nodding* =)