This is part 14 of the “Why We Hike” Series
April 20 / 13.5 miles / 1,396’ gain
Upper Chariot Canyon to Scissors Crossing
A warm night didn’t bode well for the temperatures that morning so we woke up at 4am to get a head start on the heat. Kelly put band-aids on her toes and we were on the trail within an hour.
Our first goal of the day was the 5 miles to the Rodriguez water tank. The water report said the water might not be suitable for use without both filtering and treatment because of dead animals in the tank. We only had a filter so we were hoping for the best.
Morning hikes always seem faster and more beautiful and watching the light play out as the sun rose over the desert was pleasing.
We could see Eric behind us all morning, limping his way on the opposite side of the canyons.
It was early morning and already hot when we arrived at the tank. After a quick inspection (no dead animals in sight) we decided to risk filtered water.
With only one old pump filter, we took turns pumping and it took over 2 hours to filter our full capacity of 10.5 liters of drinkable water. The heat was getting bad quick and we knew that Zach was going to have a real problem over the next 9 miles. Scissors Crossing was notorious for its broiling heat. Our agreed upon approach was for us to carry all of Zach’s pack gear and harness and then to load another 8 liters of unfiltered water into the water bags from Zach’s pack. So between us, we were carrying over 40 pounds of water.
The plan was to douse Zach heavily every half mile, starting with the unfiltered water and move as fast as we could to get to the road by 2:30. I can best describe this part of the hike as a death march. Not only did the temperatures get over 100 degrees (remember the forecast for low temps?) with practically no shade but there were sharp rocks punishing Kelly’s feet and cactus everywhere that we had to steer Zach around. We moved very slow and had to stop about every 15 minutes to douse and water Zach as we worked our way to Scissors Crossing.
We didn’t make the road until 3pm but Eric and Pat were still waiting for us, thank God! Before taking us back to the Jeep, we headed into Julian for some cheeseburgers and fries, of course, Zach got a couple of burger patties too.
All in all, we only made it to mile 77 of the PCT out of the 110 we had planned. We learned a lot about our capability and I had a bunch of ideas to improve our gear setup. On the drive home we were already planning on coming back in a week and a half.
The series continues here: Barrel Springs