Monument 83 Fire Lookout

I went for what was going to be my first solo backpacking trip. I had called ahead to the ranger station to confirm there was a water source near where I planned on camping and they said there was. I arrived at the trailhead around [6:00]AM on a sunny Tuesday. I wasn’t the only car at the trailhead but the Monument 83 trailhead is shared by the more popular Monument 78 trailhead (The Canada-end of the Pacific Crest Trail). I hoisted on my 35-pound pack and set out on the 9.6-mile hike.
Around 6.5 miles in I passed a creek but since there would be water at the top, I didn’t refill my bottles. The road-trail ended and the real trail started. The trail was now much steeper and I drank more water. I arrived at the Monument 83 fire lookout with just two cups of water left and no water source. I walked in several directions but found nor heard any water. I changed my plans to stay back at the creek after a break at the lookout.
I noticed the door to the lookout was open and I could hear voices from inside. The lookout is for emergencies only but since this was the year of the Farewell Creek Fire and the entire sky to the Southeast was black with smoke, I assumed someone was staffing it. I called out for permission to climb the tower. There was no response. I realized it wasn’t voices I was hearing but a radio repeater and thought maybe the last people to visit the lookout had failed to close the door.
I climbed the tower but the trap door to the catwalk was closed. It wasn’t locked but it wouldn’t budge. That meant it had to be blocked from above. I realized whoever was in the lookout likely didn’t have permission to be there and obviously wasn’t friendly. I became as quiet as possible as fear raced through me. It dawned on me I was a solo female hiker, unarmed, on a deserted trail and 9.6 miles from a road. I left very soon after that.
I stopped at the water source to fill my bottles. I’d been rationing water for a while and then ran out and guzzled about 4 cups. I drank too quickly and immediately felt sick. I sat on a log while my stomach accepted the water and tried to figure out where to pitch the tent. As the nausea faded the fear came back. I KNEW I had to get out of there! I was only three miles from the lookout and whoever was up there could be at my camp in less than an hour. I imagined being awoken to my tent unzipping and knew I wouldn’t be strong enough to fight off an attacker.
I hiked back to the truck. I ended up hiking 19.2 miles in one day with a full backpack. I stayed at a nearby campground and nursed my silver dollar-sized blisters.
I’m not sure anything would’ve happened to me but everything about that situation felt off and I’m glad I trusted my gut!