Water sources were abundant! An atypical year for sure though. Wayy more water than usual was flowing. My longest carry was probably 25 miles and up to 5-6L.
I finished up my AZT thru-hike over a month ago now and I think I’m fully acclimated to “normal life” at this point.
Here’s a rundown of the water situation from my Fall 2018 sobo hike. The weather was much wetter than expected. It was the rainiest October on record in AZ! This meant water sources were fine and there were no droughts to worry about. I went into the hike very nervous about water! I had read that there could be long, waterless stretches and that the only way to make it was by caching water. I reached out to several trail angels in advance with the hopes that they could help me out with water caches – which was stressful in the planning stage but also successful in practice. I had successful help from a few trail angels listed on the AZT website as well as folks on the Arizona Trail Class of 2018 Facebook page. I lined up a few water caches – which were great – but I would have been completely fine without them. Once I realized how much water there was in reality, I stopped stressing and relied on natural water sources along the trail.
A few words of water advice to anyone planning to hike the AZT: don’t stress too far in advance. If you see the entire list of water sources in Guthook and have a mental meltdown, then break it into smaller chunks. One stretch at a time. Before getting on trail, focus on the first 50 miles. Don’t fret about the rest of the trail until you’re on the trail. Then just deal with it as it comes.
That said, I managed to hike the northernmost 100 miles of trail without having to filter water at all! I relied on existing caches, filling water in town, and personal caches. It wasn’t until I was in the bottom of the Grand Canyon that I had to use my Sawyer Squeeze for the first time!
My longest water carry was between Picket Post (leaving Superior) and the Gila River – a 21 mile carry. Another Long stretch was on the way into (north of) Roosevelt Lake between Shake Spring and town – a 20 mile carry. Each of these water carries was about 6L. Both of these sections – for me – were extra heavy because I chose to dry camp between the water sources (I carry an 1.5-2L of water for cooking). However, these – and other – “long”, dry stretches can easily be lightened by camping at the water sources and hiking the distance between in one day.