I hike to water, to hike to water, in order to hike to water. My fellow PCT’ers and I read the updated water report and find ourselves clustered around a rusty spigot in a grassy oasis. Kneeling over a horse trough, we filter brown and buggy water into our assorted former Gatorade and Smart Water bottles, preparing for the next waterless section of trail.
I hike 18 miles a day, driven on by music and labyrinthine childhood memories. The music brings the landscape to life in textured, technicolor ways. I listen to Tricky’s Maxinquaye while walking through a burn with newly sprouted grasses and delicate flowers. Tricky sings “I can’t breathe. I can’t see” and his rasp travels from my ears to my eyes, mixing with the charred hillside.
As for the memories, they percolate up from some spring I thought was long dry. I recall conversations from first grade with impossible clarity and try to imagine that small person as me now, moving through this desert. The circuitous path I walk mimics the thread of my thoughts. The trail and I are growing closer.