I know what you're thinking from the title of this blog... "Yes, I know water is important! I always drink plenty!" So do I... Usually. On our fifth day on the Benton MacKaye Trail we ran into a dire water situation and I wanted to write this bonus blog about how important your water truly is.
When we left Blue Ridge, GA on our fifth morning, we were going to be doing a six mile road walk through vacation cabins, neighborhoods, and farmlands. Our guidebook indicated that this valley walk didn't have a 'good' water source, so we walked out of town with approximately 3 liters of water a piece. When we finally finished our road walk and stopped for lunch, we knew our book said water was 0.8 miles away on a side trail. We drank most of it on the hot exposed roads and only had about 1/2 a liter of water between us (17 ounces). We attempted to find this water source in two locations where it supposedly was, but recent development and cabins built on this mountain pretty much wiped out the springs. No problem. We had a few sips and decided to go up and over the mountain in front of us, approximately 2.4 miles, to the next source.
We arrived at the next gap and began surveying the situation. NoKey followed a trail down into a gulley and there was nothing there. We walked every direction we could and no water. Okay, 1.2 miles to a campsite and water source, again up and over a mountain!
We arrived at McKenney gap and not only was it NOT a campsite, not on a road (as the book suggested), and had evidence of bear activity, there was not a single place that even looked like there was water. Again, some old trails all converged here so we wandered around and found absolutely nothing. We didn't have a choice other than moving on for the night. This is where we had originally planned to camp, but the fact that I had physically seen a bear AND two coyote coming up over this ridge made me think again. We drank the last of our water and powered up to the next gap where there was supposedly a stream crossing.
On the way into Hatley Gap we spotted some water close to the trail. We made the decision to bushwhack down the hill and make ourselves a way to fill up a bottle out of the spring. We drank a few bottles a piece and walked on our way hoping to find a camp.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I wanted to let people know that not all trails like the AT or trails in the Smokies where water is guaranteed just because a campsite is established. Our first night on the BMT we also didn't find our supposed water source and had to trek back up the hill for water. When you see water running make sure you have enough! We have Sawyer Mini filters and could have avoided this situation today if we had thought ahead and said "well our water source might not be there anymore." Always have extra water because at the end of the day it's easier to dump out water than it is to seek it out!