I take back everything nice I ever said about New York. Those rolling luscious fields disappeared real quick like as we got farther into the state. The fact is that New York is a dry, God-forsaken, rocky horror.
The main complaint here is lack of water and/or water quality. Streams that are marked on the map are dry. Water pumps at shelters reek of rust and lead. I got seriously sick for a few days upon entering New York and I blame the water. It’s so bad that trail angels leave jugs of potable water by roadsides for hikers. And it would be very difficult going without these kind souls.
So, one night in New York, we find ourselves at a shelter with no water source for at least two miles on either side down the mountain. The mountain shelter is gorgeous, with views of the Hudson and the NYC skyline in the distance. When the sun went down, we watched the skyscrapers light up the night sky.
At the same time, it had been a long hot day of hiking and we didn’t have as much water as anticipated. I had scored a 16 ounce water bottle from a biker on top of Bear Mountain, but we needed to save that for the morning. We were trying to space out the spare ounces we had left for the night when a careless foot movement from Treasure Hunter sent our precious remaining liquid pooling in the dirt…
We sat on the edge of the shelter in anguished disbelief. A humorless chuckle or two bubbled from our lips.
Treasure Hunter grabbed two of our Nalgene bottles and said, “I’ll be back. Don’t worry.” And he took off down the trail into the twilight.
Thinking the most useful thing to do in the meantime would be to check the shelter register for hints on water, I began to peruse the book while I waited.
It was nearly full dark by the time I heard footsteps coming up the path. I had been feeling less than optimistic after finding a register entry that described water in the opposite direction Treasure Hunter had gone.
There he was, though, holding two full Nalgene bottles in either hand.
“I made water,” he says.
As it were, he had travelled over a mile away from camp before he came upon a dried up stream. He had then followed the stream bed up a ways, and finding no spring at the top, had begun to dig his hands into the ground. He dug deep enough to reach the water table the original spring had come from and after sifting through the mud, he had procured two liters of sweet, sweet water.
I looked at him, standing in front of the shelter, caked to the knees and elbows in mud, two bottles of water in tow.
“You’ve never been sexier than you are right now.”
And it was the best tasting water I’ve ever had.
Treasure Hunter: 1 New York: Zip.