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CDT Day 18 Disgusting Water

Water on the Continental Divide Trail

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5th May

25.7 miles (41.4km)

Ridgetop Camp (302.4) to Bushcamp (328.1)

“Is that the worst water you have ever drunk”, Crunchmaster asked.

I thought about it for a minute as I recalled all the bad water sources I’ve drunk from in my life. “Yeah”, I said. “This is definitely the worst water I’ve ever drunk in my life”.

The pond, if that’s what its called was only an inch or two deep and about 15 feet across. It had a kind of dark green, dark brown colour to it. On the surface of the water was an oil slick. I’m not sure how that got there and then there were the many dead bugs. It was disgusting. We were both just about out of water and to say we were thirsty was an understatement. Our maps indicated the next known water was six miles away. It was high noon and the heat of the day was kicking in. We had the drink the water. We were thirsty.

I did drink the water. So did Crunchmaster. We filtered the water of course. Despite the dead bugs and putrid colour I must admit that it tasted nice. I mean it tasted like water. Much better than water I’ve drunk in many towns. And we didn’t die, or get sick, yet.

Earlier in the day I left camp and made my way to a Mengus mountain fire observation tower. Dave was on duty. He invited me up to the top of the tower. Another hiker Bambi was there but he didn’t stay long. Dave told me of the history and geology of the area and pointed out all the surrounding mountains. In between our conversations he would grab his binoculars and scan the horizon for fires.

“I need to do this every 15 minutes”, he said.

There are a network of these fire towers in New Mexico. At one point Dave was chatting in the radio with Skip. He was in a tower 30 miles away. It seemed like a lonely life with lots of time to read, write or whatever takes your fancy. Anybody in the area should drop in and say hello, I’m sure he will appreciate it.

I was running low on water when I left Dave and the fire tower. That’s when I hiked the 6 miles or so to THAT pond. That disgusting pond.

I did make it eventually to the next water source. An electric pump. The water was so clean and clear. I didn’t even bother to treat it. It tasted so nice.

We hiked several more miles into the evening. We jumped a fence and camped among some small trees. The weather had not yet determined if it was going to rain or not. It decided not to rain on us. Our entire day of hiking was on forestry roads. I expected some forestry roads on the CDT, but not a whole day of it. I’m told there will be many more miles of roadwalking before I reach Canada.

New Mexico Fire Tower
View from the fire tower
Fire Tower Lookout
Dave on duty at the Mengus Fire Tower
Poor water quality in New Mexico CDT
no i didn’t drink that water
Drinking bad water on the CDT
I drank this putrid water
Bad water on the CDT
i was desperate
Beer on the CDT is better
A friendly local gave Spontanious a beer, he shared it with us
CDT roadwalk new mexico
It has offen happened in New Mexico that it starts to rain but it fails to reach the ground
ranch on the CDT
many of the ranches have these intricate metalwork signs

Next – Day 19 – Pie Town

Everything you need to know about hiking the CDT:
Complete Guide to Hiking the Continental Divide Trail
CDT Resupply Guide
CDT Gear List

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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6 thoughts on “CDT Day 18 Disgusting Water”

  1. Hi Brad
    You are going really well. The story is great to follow. Are you finding that you have acclimatised quicker this time than on the PCT?

    • Muscle memory for long distance hiking seems to have me up to speed quite quickly. As hikers we have all got our mileage up quite quickly on the CDT


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