I wouldn't be the first, or the last.

As I came over the crest of the hill I saw the same landscape I had been seeing all day. Sure the GPS told me I was going somewhere, but the desert stretched on; endless as far as I could tell. From my pack I fished out the last water bottle. All that remained now was a tepid swallow. Shrugging, I took a swig. Better in me than in the bottle. I had ten miles left to go.

How did I end up in this position? And how did I get back to write about it? Months ago I began planning a trip to a cave of legendary proportions. My approach involved a ten mile round-trip hike across rough desert terrain. Before I began I had hidden a cache of water and exploring supplies near my destination.


During the hike several complications arose and turned that ten mile day hike into a thirty mile hike with a forced camp out. All my carefully laid plans went out the window. I was unprepared and under supplied. When night fell I was supposed to access the cave and leave before first light, freshly restocked from the secret cache. Instead now when I arrived I would need access to the cache immediately; I knew I had already gone too far in the heat without water.

But as darkness fell, I too fell victim to confusion and disorientation, unable to find the cache I had just placed only that morning. Now it had been hours since I had anything to drink. My ears were ringing, I tried to eat a granola bar but found myself unable to swallow the bone dry flakes that stuck in my palette. I won't lie, I was scared. That night I lay down on a rough canyon floor and tried to cry thinking I was a dead man. I could only choke on my swollen tongue and listen to the ringing in my ears.

Eventually though as the night cooled and comforted me I knew I had to make one last effort to live. I crawled back and forth across the canyon looking for something I might recognize from my walk hours ago, when I planted the cache. Finally after four passes I saw a distinctive hoodoo on the canyon wall. I had found the cache.

Rescue workers always advise those who might become lost in the desert to drink the water they have when they feel thirsty. Elaborate rationing schemes don't work and too often would be survivors are found with a little water still in their bottles. Your body knows what to do better than you when it's dying. So I drank. And the next morning I was left with about one third of what I had started out with the day before, and was facing the same hike in reverse. I wasn't out of this yet. Things had only just gotten started.

And that's where you found me, only one third of the way into the return trip and already running dry a second time. So how did I pull it off? A trick reserved for only the most desperate times. My map led me to a ranch not too far out of my way. No one was in sight but I didn't need any help finding some irrigation pipes and opening them up. A pressurized jet of cool water sprayed out of the thick black tubing and nothing had ever felt better. Some rancher out there is cursing his damaged pipe, but it saved my life.

So where did these pictures come from? After a bit of recuperation I found another way in. Still waiting to see if the water I drank was contaminated. Wish me luck!


See the world, they
told me...

bayou goula towhead

the sea test

the circumnavigator pt5
the circumnavigator pt4
the circumnavigator pt3
the circumnavigator pt2
the circumnavigator pt1
falling dream
the darkness
one hell of a mile 3&4
he will return
the believers
the horror pt2
the horror pt1
death valley

paradise of outlaws
the mountain climbers 1&2
brought to surface
one hell of a mile 3
the lost world
inner gorge
a ghost story
the riddle
slaying the minotaur
heart of darkness
public lands
organ music
two sought adventure
the virgin river
the road north

steal the world
the end of the world
el dorado
the valley of the kings 2
the valley of the kings 1
one hell of a mile 2
one hell of a mile 1
the mountain climbers rr4
heroes rr3
rainy roadtrip 2
rainy roadtrip 1
the transgression
sinister 2
sinister 1
new chapter

like sedona?
torn in two
bridge to nowhere
the door
hitting the wall
elusive 2
elusive 1
pick up lines

revisited 2
revisited 1
which way?
lost mines
in their footsteps
a dance with death

casting the bones
mountain thief
the deer hunter
strange temple
burial pt. 3
burial pt. 2
burial pt. 1
the apparition
return to hell
the lower depths
underground lake
stretch sewer
the hidden lab
shadow movements
meager rations
sw8: the conclusion
sw7: lost gold mines
sw6: the big tubes
sw5: gold!
sw4: el calderon
sw3: redondo
sw2: ghosts
sw1: westward bound
formaldehyde dreams
the underdark
in the beginning