Thursday, June 16, 2011
Water is Life
Somebody asked about how I will calculate my need for water for a 146-mile
self-contained crossing of Death Valley in July.
The answer is, I have no idea!
Ounces per hour or per mile won't work. My pace and work load will be
totally unlike racing the course with a crew. Instead of 30+ hrs, my time
in the relentless heat will be measured in days, probably 3-4 days. (It
took Marshall 77 hours and 46 mins.) And I will be pushing a heavy cart up
and down various grades. I have no experiences like this to help me
calculate specifically, and I don't think it is even really possible to do.
How much water do you use for dousing when running Badwater? Who knows? I have
never really thought about it while running the race; it was just always there for me. So, while I can guess, it is difficult, if not impossible, to calculate.
But I have done my homework. I spoke with Marshall Ulrich and Jeff Sauter,
the only 2 to have attempted this (Marshall the only one to have completed
it), and I am somewhat basing what I will carry on what worked and didn't
work for them.
Marshall had enough water to drink but not enough to douse with.
Jeff had enough for both.
They used different carts and water-carrying methods.
I require less water overall for rehydrating than either of them.
I might be out there longer.
I want enough to be able to douse somewhat freely.
I am nowhere near as physically strong as either of them for carrying weight.
Each 2.5G container of water weighs 20 pounds.
Water cannot be filtered on the mountain or resupplied at any time.
Water is life in the desert.
Running out of water is almost a sure DNF (unless I'm 1/2 way up the mountain).
Marshall's cart weighed about 225 lbs.
Jeff's weighed more than that.
In general, I am erring on the side of being prepared for anything, playing
it safe. The trade-off for that is the weight. But I am not going to leave
my warm summit clothes back in Badwater in the likely chance I will need
them on the mountain. So, no skimping for me on winter clothes, emergency
gear for the summit, and emergency supplies for the cart. I'm toting it all,
trying to cover all possible scenarios in the lightest possible fashion.
Similarly, I would be very nervous to skimp on the water. The best question
would be, how *little* water do I need for the crossing? But I don't know
the answer to that. Certainly, I'm not going to put myself at risk, and I
don't want to have to DNF because I wanted to do this *faster* with less
weight or something.
So, with all the general numbers and information in mind (really there are
no specific numbers) I'm thinking I should err on the side of a bit too much
water, but not so much that I can't push the cart. That would be around
eight 2.5G jugs. And maybe I will throw in one more just because I suck at
gambling? I haven't decided that yet. Nine 2.5G jugs = 180 pounds. And
that's just water weight! But, I can at least always douse with the extra
to get rid of it and lighten the load prior to the first major pass at mile 42.
Those are my thoughts and my preliminary plans. I will be experimenting
with the cart and water jugs here in the 50 degree weather that Spokane has
been offering for heat training. Not a fair simulation but it's the best I
can do. I'll make the best guesses I can and from there I'm just going to be
praying to the Death Valley gods to allow me safe passage.
No scientific method, no concrete calculations, and a lot of vaguely
educated guess work.