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Thread: Water on hikes

  1. #1
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    Default Water on hikes

    Do most of you treat your water on hikes in the wilderness or just drink it as it is. Have you heard of any problems w untreated water up in the Brooks where I plan to hike this summer?

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    The common thought is that giardia could be present in the water anywhere in Alaska. That said, before filters, etc. were widely available I drank from many a clear running mountain water source without a problem. Now I err on the safe side and tend to filter most everything. I'm sure that those that have dealt with giadia will tell you that it's no fun.
    The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps! (Eleanor Roosevelt, 1945)

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I'm a lot like ak257, in that I used to drink a lot of untreated water, but now I filter it. I'll still drink water that is directly falling off of a steep mountainside, but if it is anywhere near the valley floor, I'd rather play it safe. Actually, I'm becoming more conservative by the year and prefer to filter all of my water. People have gotten giardia from high mountain streams with no obvious source of contamination, so it's just not worth the risk.

    I personally use the MSR Miniworks filter. It's not too heavy, is very easy to use, and fits right onto my water bottles and the top of my camelback. Love it.

    -Brian

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    Personally, I can't stand water pumps but realize their necessity. The issue I have is that if you want personal drinking water you have to break out the pump, stand in the stream....bla bla bla.

    I started using a Katadyn Exstream XR water filter bottle. It's 32 ounces or something like that and it has filters etc for everything in it. You just fill the bottle from a clear water source and squeeze/suck the water out....very handy and saves you carrying two pounds of water (a pint's a pound the world around) in a normal Nalgene if you are on a hike/fish/hunt whatever. I keep a pump filter around for camp but this bottle thingy is my go to for drinkin water.

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    Member Rick P's Avatar
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    I too dislike having to pump water through a filter, but several years ago I spent 3 days stuck in a sleeping bag vomiting out one side of the bag and defecting out the other due too bad stream water! I was so weakened I almost didn't make it home and had to spend some to in the hospital. Never again I filter every drop and maintain my filter properly!

  6. #6

    Default so-so

    I've been lucky the few times I've drunk water without filtering or boiling it, but my hiking partner got a bad case of the runs after drinking straight from a large, clear lake. I carry a Miniworks filter as well; it's easy to clean the filter element and can be taken apart so you can replace o-rings when need be. I don't bother treating water I'm going to boil for cooking. On my next trip I'm going to try using chlorine and iodine tablets to see if they make the water taste bad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Dotson View Post
    Do most of you treat your water on hikes in the wilderness or just drink it as it is. Have you heard of any problems w untreated water up in the Brooks where I plan to hike this summer?

    Thanks, very much gentleman ! I'm going to be buying a filter for sure!

    Mike Dotson

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    Thumbs up Tablets

    My buddies and I use the tablets. You can get 2 sets - first set is for disenfecting purposes and the second is to improve the taste. I think the first has to sit in a nalgene size bottle for about 5 minutes and the second for approx. 3 minutes (don't quote me on that...I just remember it didn't take all that long). They come in 2 extremely small bottles and weigh next to nothing...great for hiking.

    BTW - I bought a pump-filter, used it once, STILL got sick (front & back simultaneously while still in the wilderness) so I've switched to the tablets and never looked back. Also, that incident happened at Indian Creek...I think that Valley is Haunted.

    Happy Hiking!

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    I can understand everybody's caution with drinking water in the wilderness, however I personally haven't purified water since I moved to Alaska. I'm choosy about the source; no lakes, streams and creeks must have a gravel bed and at least a 15% grade, and/or I must be near a source such as a snowfield or spring. As Edward Abbey wrote: If you can't drink the water where you live, it's time to move....

    For those that want to purify, carry a filter if it makes you feel better. Make sure it filters giardia AND cryptosporidium. I shy away from the extra weight and have had problems with clogged/broken filters, not to mention their expense! The set of tablets commonly used are called Potable Aqua, one cleans and one eliminates the iodine taste. I carry these with me just in case of emergency, or if I'm with someone that wants to purify a source. Polar Pure is a great system as well, but the water does taste like iodine. With all iodine systems, follow the directions to the letter! If the water is cold it may take longer than the recommended 30 minutes. All iodine starts to break down after 6 months and can not be trusted after that, so make sure you always have fresh tablets. Don't bother with chlorine tablets, I've heard they are not completely effective.

    I've hiked the Crow Pass trail many times without even carrying a water bottle!!! And once during an adventure race that crossed the entire Talkeetna mountain range I drank 4 liters of the silty Talkeetna river....which I would NOT recommend, but I didn't get sick. In fact, I've never gotten even close to sick. Maybe I have hardened my gut. I know people can be carrying giardia in their systems but never show symptoms. Maybe this will all bite me in the @#$%^%$ someday!

  10. #10

    Default Crow Pass

    I have stayed at Crow Pass cabin several times in spring to Telemark ski and had to dig out the outhouse that was covered with snow. Having seen all the human waste around that Crow Pass cabin area, I would never drink the water up there without purifying it first. It was so bad not only did we call the park office, but we won't go back to ski out of that cabin in the spring anymore. People are too lazy to use the shovel & dig out the outhouse.

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    Yuk. And lots of dog waste too, I'm sure....definitely a place to avoid drinking untreated water. Any established campsite would be a bad idea. I should say all of my Crow Pass hikes sans water bottle were one-day cruises so I never had to worry about the extra water needed for camping, I could just tank up along the way.

    Also on the same note of potential human and pet waste, if you do decide to drink from a stream it helps to go at least 50' upstream from any trail or pathway.

    And, I realized when reading my last post that I was not thinking about boiling water, which I have done before in case of doubt about a source. I make it part of my dinner meal or tea, so I'm not wasting any fuel in the process. The latest findings I've read say that just bringing water to a rolling boil will kill pathogens, no need to boil for 10 minutes or anything, like I've read before. Talk about wasting fuel!

  12. #12

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    I filter my water always and I try to bring purified water during 'short' hikes.



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  13. #13

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    I purify. I use a water filter which, for me, has been a fun highlight of my camping experience. ...Except for that one time when I took ten kids camping and was required to filter all their water for them. That got a little ridiculous. But ever since then, filtering a bottle or two every so often doesn't seem like much work, considering you have guaranteed safe drinking water when you finish. I don't know about you, but I sleep better with filtered water in my belly.

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