Posts Tagged ‘desert’

The Spring

If there were a disease for overwhelming serenity I’d say I’ve contracted the deadliest strand. Unfortunately, I think I’ll have to settle for Giardia. I started this morning with a case of cottonmouth that accompanies sleeping in the desert at 5,000 feet. Between my four water bottles I had 1/3 liter of clear drink remaining. So I packed up camp and took off before the hear of the day and headed towards “The Spring.” It sounded icy cold and more pure than any tap.

The day before, I had tried to buy water treatment supplies at the outpost. I was inspecting two different purifiers when the owner interrupted, “Where ya goin?” She questioned. If the desert had a human form, I was looking at her. I told her my destination and she leaned back her shoulders and crossed her arms above her wide stance.

“Ah, you don’ need that stuff. Just go to the spring and use yer tee shirt fer a filter.” Her face was the same orange-brown as the rock formations in the distance. Leathery skin stretched taut over her sinewy muscles.

“Yeah?” I replied, “It’s not dangerous?”

“Ah naw, spring’s fed by fresh snowmelt, clean as it gets!”

That was all I needed. I wasn’t one to refuse advice from The Desert herself. Before leaving I asked her how business was. “It’s rough…the economy.”

“Yeah it’s brutal,” I quickly agreed. But I was really more concerned with her sales skills. The outpost business is tough when you encourage visitors to leave under-prepared.

I reached the area on my map labeled The Spring just before noon with empty water bottles and a thirsty tee shirt. My fantasies of fresh snowmelt were quickly erased as I peered down into a murky, insect-infested puddle. I was greeted by a couple that looked like they had just popped out of an REI ad. Their combined weight couldn’t have been more than 250 pounds and they were excitedly filling their water containers. No, not water bottles, but huge plastic bladders with carrying rings and a special lid for adding purifiers. Into each bladder they poured a special chemical, waited five minutes and then added yet another final droplet of purifier. Cheaters.

Ashamed to unveil my complex system, a brown tee purchased from Goodwill, I casually remarked that I’d fill up on the way back down. My tongue was so dry it scratched my mouth as I spoke. So I finished the hike and was far too thirsty to enjoy the amazing rock arch at the top. I eagerly descended back to the spring.

Guess who was happily enjoying a hot meal from their portable stove and titanium cookset? I pulled out my trail mix, $3.59/lb, steal of deal. Mom always taught me to spot the good deals. Too dehydrated to care I whipped off my tee and told them about The Desert. Their faces looked less than impressed as I the puddle water filtered through the sweat and dust of my shirt. “Enjoy your lunch!” I said as I capped my last bottle. As I trudged the next five miles to my next campsite I couldn’t help but wonder, how long does it take before Giardia kicks in?

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