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Great Western Loop: Day 206 - 210: Chiriaco Summit to Lake Alamo

Day 206: Ghost town in the desert (34miles)

The night was rough, as i had slept close to Interstate 10, which would be my lifeline for the next 2 days.

For the first 18-20miles of the day i followed a dirt road parallel to the interstate. My goal was reaching the ghost town of Desert Center and nearby Lake Tamarisk in the early afternoon. Lake Tamarisk was my only chance of getting some water in this utterly dry section.


(Desert Center, abandoned gas station)

The day was extremely hot and shade limited. At 8am temperatures already got close to 90°F (32°C). I still carried some 3l of water, but was running low fast. Due to the proximity of the interstate, the area was filled with trash and empty bottles of all kinds. I was so concerned about my overall water supply that i actually watched for bottles that still held some water, knowing that especially truck drivers like tossing "pee-bottles" out of their trucks.

At one point i found a 800ml Gatorade bottle. Dirty, but the seal seemed to be unbroken. I was really tempted to pick it up, but hesitated. The bottle had expired a long time ago and i decided it would be better not to drink it.

At noon i arrived at Lake Tamarisk. A tiny golf resort with a tiny lake. I went to the small fire station and asked two firefighters for water. I expected some water from a hose, but without hesitation these guys offered me their bottled drinking water and even gave me 6-7 electrolyte packages.

Hiking out of Lake Tamarisk was rough.

I decided to go cross-country through the middle of the desert, while always keeping the Interstate on my left-hand side. Due to the heat i had to stop early and often and take many breaks. Thus, i didnt make nearly as much progress, as i had hoped for and my water supply dropped rapidly.

("brutal" conditions in the desert)

Even with several breaks along the way, i was so exhausted that i had to stop early.

I was down to 1.4l with 16miles to the next water source. I knew that i would need about 1l to make it through the night and so i filled 0.4l into a different bottle, which i put deep down into my backpack, so that i wouldn't accidentally drink it at night.


Day 207: THIRST (34miles)

With 0.4l left i had to get up early to avoid as much of the day's heat as possible.

Fortunately, hiking through the desert at night was very easy. The terrain was flat and i had almost no obstacles in my way. I started at 3am and made good progress, but was getting really thirsty.

My limited supply of water allowed for one 0.1l sip every hour. Not enough to hydrate, just barely enough to keep some moisture in the mouth to allow for some saliva flow, which prevented coughing and throwing up.


Quite precisely at 9am i finally reached the Wiley's Well Restarea, a remote location with restrooms and water. I got some pretty confused looks from people at the restarea. Guess they didn't expect someone to be crazy to hike through the desert.

From here on, it was much easier. After drinking 2l of water and packing another 2l for the next 9miles i hiked on towards Blythe.

I dodged a highway patrol car, when i had to briefly hike along the interstate to bypass a fence and than continued on the desert floor to Blythe.

On my way into town, a car stopped next to me and the driver offered me 5 USD. I apparently looked really bad...

Day 208: Easy going (33miles)

I had spent the night at a cheap motel to recharge my electronics and left Blythe after a quick breakfast at Denny's. Leaving Blythe meant hitting a major milestone. Crossing the Colorado river into Arizona, the first and final state of my journey.

(Colorado river near Blythe)

From here on, i followed a dirt road to Morgantown and Quartzsite. With plenty options to resupply this day was easy going and allowed for a little bit of a break, after the brutal desert sections.


I met a few ATV riders, who briefly asked if i needed help, but had a mostly uneventful day, which ended with a stunning sunset, just a few miles north of Quartzsite.

Day 209: Bouse (35miles)

I had camped some 15miles southwest of Bouse and was now headed for the small town of some 800 people.

Along the road i met Frank on his self-made bike. He passed me and turned around later. We chatted for a while and i learned that he participated in some long distance bike races from Montana to Alaska.


Just before noon i arrived in Bouse, just to find out that the only Cafe in town was closed. I therefore went to the General Store for some snacks.

Here i met Greg, who had moved to Bouse in early march, but was working on a fishing tender, also in Alaska. He was quite impresed by my determination and bought some water and a sandwhich for me. From him, i learned a little bit about a secret WW2 military facility in the nearby desert, where experimente with strobe lights on tanks had been executed.


From Bouse i took the Swansea and Lincoln Ranch road, crossed the Hayden Aquaeduct and finally camped about 6miles from the Bill Williams River.

I had initially planned to take water from the aqueduct, but a high fence, many "no trespassing" signs and my solid water supply, made me hike on.

Day 210: Water or no water? (17miles)

By the end of day 209 my water supply had once again dropped dramatically and i was really hoping for water in the Bill Williams River. My research from a year ago showed that this river usually has water year-round and that's what Greg said too.

For the rest of this day's route i had two options. If i would find a mostly dry riverbed i'd follow the Bill Williams River wash towards the Lake Alamo Dam, if i would find plenty of water and an inaccessible canyon, i'd hike through the mountains to reach Lake Alamo.

(Abandoned Lincoln Ranch, just south of the Bill Williams River)

(Water! Green, stinky, but it's water...)

I found water at the river and filtered enough for a strenuous cross-country hike through the mountains to Lake Alamo. I initially followed an abandoned trail, which quickly disapeared, than climbed two mountains and finally decided to drop into a small wash for easier hiking. That wash lead me to Lake Alamo.

(A little bit of scrambling and climbing required in the wash)

Around noon i arrived at the Lake Alamo State Park and its General Store.

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