AZT 2: “But not the kind you can drink.”

Patagonia to Posta Quemada Ranch…

“Yeah, but not the kind you can drink,” said the man in the Post Office, as we were heading out of Patagonia, referring to water along the trail. While another guy said, “yup, you have to pack it all.” I thought about those words all the way to Posta Quemada Ranch, “Yeah, but not the kind you can drink.”

After walking 6000 miles of backcountry trails “the kind you can drink” starts to mean something different. One of my water sources on the Continental Divide Trail was a cattle tank filled with 1/2 inch of water, a lot of animal fur, shards of bone, and stringy red algae–and with 20+ miles from the last water source and 20 miles to the next source I was ever so grateful for the water.

So far the Arizona Trail has had a lot of water, and so much of it has been from natural sources too. We walked out of Patagonia and headed for Anaconda Spring. As soon as we entered Temporal Gulch there was water in the creek bed, frogs were chirping, and the cottonwood trees were dressed in full spring green. We camped near the old Armada Mine and as dark fell I announced that this was the first spooky campsite of the trail. It just felt like someone else was there. I didn’t sleep well that night, jumping at every sound in the darkness. When we woke the next morning we could hear coughing echoing off the hillside and as it turned out there were three other thru-hikers camped just around the creek bend from us.

We walked along creeks, by springs, and on old canals that had been used for mining. The Santa Rita Mountains were gushing with water all the way to Kentucky Camp. Kentucky Camp was an old gold mining camp back in the early 1900’s, now it’s just a tourist stop. No one was there when we arrived. We sat at the picnic tables and chatted ’til dark. No one showed up so Neon and I decided to sleep inside the big building. I slept on a tiny sofa and delighted in the luxury if a warm soft spot to sleep on.

The next morning we set off into a drier stretch of trail. Between Kentucky Camp and Posta Quemada Ranch we had three good water sources: a cattle tank, a cattle pond, and a lovely creek in our first stretch of Sonoran Desert. It was beautiful, but much hotter. When we got to the creek we went straight in, off with the shorts, the top, the bra, looking around occasionally to make sure we were still alone. It was heaven, the kind for washing, and drinking too.

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