I got an email from someone who had hiked the AT. He asked me about water on the PCT. He wrote:
I have provisions to carry 11 liters, and am dumbfounded by thoughts of such a load. I never carried more than 2 liters on the AT...sure, I ran out and got thirsty a few times, but never felt that my life was endangered by dehydration ; on the AT, you could always walk down off the ridge. Trying to remember if you wrote that you carried so much because you had no purification ability ??
Yes, carried about 15 liters in one stretch because we didnâ€™t have a way to purify. There was water, but it was bad water. Maiu had accidentally broken the bottle of Pristine, so we couldnâ€™t purify. She carried 5 liters. We did 50 miles without getting fresh water. But thatâ€™s unusual.
Normally you have to do about 20 miles. The worst cases are 30 miles.
Also, like the AT, there is usually a way to get water. But instead of going down the mountain, you might have to go to a road and hitchhike. Or ask a motorist for water. Or get some from a ranch or house. As long as you plan, you should be fine.
But that still doesnâ€™t alleviate the need to carry 10 liters at times. Itâ€™s rare, usually 6 liters is enough. In either case, it teaches you the importance of minimizing your weight. Therefore, I encourage you to look at my two gear lists: