Volunteers install new water tank on the dry Hat Creek Rim

The new water tank is a long-term solution for hikers traversing California's dry Hat Creek Rim

The new water tank is a long-term solution for hikers traversing California’s dry Hat Creek Rim.

By Jim Beatty

Cache 22 near the PCT crossing at Forest Road 22 (mile 1,391 on Halfmile’s maps) was located on the north end of the Hat Creek Rim. The water cache was started by Will Snyder, a Fall River school teacher, who intended to cache water for his son, who was hiking the PCT.

Will quickly realized there was a crucial need for water on the rim, one of the longest dry sections on the trail, so he continued to cache water there for several years. A thatched shade structure was built for hikers to rest and drink the bottled water. It eventually was dubbed Cache 22.

After maintaining the cache for several years, the responsibility became problematic for WIll. He recruited another generous local from Fall River, Stan Vigalo, to take over restocking water. In time, Will’s son Sky Snyder began to help as well until the volume of hikers and real life became too much. Over the years, random folks would haul water and sometimes food to the site but trash and empty water jugs started to accumulate. Additionally, food cached for hikers, while well intentioned, is bad for wildlife and creates litter. Cache 22 was looking rough, not to mention rather un-natural along a national scenic trail.

In 2013, after hiking the rim and caching my own water at Cache 22, I recognized the cache was no longer sustainable by volunteers.

This same year, I became a volunteer scout with the local PCTA trail maintenance program, Pounders Promise. We talked about replacing the outdated cache with a water tank.

Discussions ensued with Justin Kooyman, the PCTA’s regional representative in Northern California, and the U.S. Forest Service folks at the Hat Creek Ranger District. After months of keeping the idea alive, we got a call from the Lassen National Forest about rebuilding the cattle and horse corral near Cache 22 with the intent of having one water tank for livestock and another for hikers. They found funding and needed to use it for a good cause.

The hiker’s water tank would be funded and refilled by volunteers and paid for with donations.

The new water tank blends in nicely with its surroundings.

The new water tank blends in nicely with its surroundings.

In May, in a joint effort between the Forest Service and Pounders Promise, we rebuilt the corral and installed a structure for a 550-gallon water tank. The tank was filled by a certified potable water truck from nearby Packway Materials in Cassel. With the water tank a reality, we disassembled the old thatched shade structure known as Cache 22 and left the area in a more natural looking state.

The water tank now sits full and ready, waiting for thirsty hikers.

Photo by: Nathaniel Middleton