The day had started in a playful way. I woke up to the view of the most glorious tree. It looked like three separate trees growing from one trunk. Dejure suggested we climb it and I couldn’t resist.
As seems to the the norm in summer Northern California, it was a baking hot day. I carried 2 litres of water and my plan was to have lunch by a spring at mile 15 where I could replenish my water.
My heart sunk to find the spring was dry.
I drank my remaining water and prepared myself for a dry 5 miles to the next source.
I told myself it would be fine.
I plodded on, sweating as the path led me onto higher ground.
I listened to an audio book to take my mind of water but I couldn’t concentrate. My mouth and throat were dry. My lips hurt and felt rough.
I heard the stream before I saw it. And then I ran, my heart pounding. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Clear water flowing down, tier by tier. Life flowing.
I grabbed the water bottles from my pack and filled them. I took a few greedy unfiltered gulps before putting my filter on to finish the rest.
After drinking 2 litres I sat on the grass and added rehydration salts to another litre, this time drinking more slowly.
My dry cells were coming back to life. I felt the sun warm my right leg and at the same I shivered. A dragon fly danced around me, sounding like electricity.
I walked on another 10 miles to camp alone on a ridge, taking great care to carry water to sustain me till morning.
I lay in my tent, no need of the rain sheet, and watched the stars.
My thoughts were simple: the wonder of clean water. And I had a memory of being a child and telling my parents I didn’t like water. I never knew what thirst was.