No Water — In the worst possible place

In 1983, I set out with a few friends to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s hard to believe now, but it was a time when fewer than 15 people completed the trail each year. In the ’70s and ’80s, when the trail through southern California wasn’t traversing mountains on well-established tread, it dropped into desert terrain, where dirt roads, known as “Jeep Roads” became the norm.

Water sources were always a challenge, but the Mojave Desert area raised the level of uncertainty and danger. This is the story of how we came perilously close to suffering heat stroke or worse and gained a valuable lesson in relying too heavily on “known sources of information” where the margin of error was close to zero.

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