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water availability and purification

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water availability and purification

Postby jcampout@bellsouth.net » Wed Jun 27, 2007 4:40 pm

I'm coming in from the east coast in 2 weeeks to do an 11 day backpack using the Cottonwood trailhead. What is the water availability in that area like? Many springs and creeks are drying up in the Georgia mountains so I want to find out how things are out in the Sierra's. Also, what will work best: waterfilter or drops/tablets? Thanks!
jc :cool:
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Postby SPeacock » Thu Jun 28, 2007 6:13 am

All creeks are still running. Not like they would in a 'normal' year, but through July for sure.

Most seem to use pump filters instead of chemicals. The latter have a taste and take too long to work for the thirsty. Others roll the dice and take few precautions.
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Postby tomcat_rc » Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:26 am

"roll the dice" is a fairly loose term - many of us consider the Sierra water safe to drink - giardia not being a threat as in other areas

if you chose purify/strilization - many seems satisfied with the steri-pen
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Postby KathyW » Thu Jun 28, 2007 10:36 am

I roll the dice most of the time, but I do carry purification tablets or drops for heavily traveled areas like around Whitney.
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Water Purity

Postby Mike M. » Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:10 pm

Drink right out of the streams and lakes -- there is no need to filter or otherwise purify the water once you are away from the trailhead. Exceptions to this rule are heavily camped areas that have been despoiled through overuse -- the east side of the Whitney Trail is a prime example.

I don't consider this rolling the dice -- giardia is virtually nonexistent in the High Sierra. Google searches on this subject support this -- lab tests of water taken from various alpine Sierra lakes have uniformly come up clean.

It is a very dry year, but water should be plentiful through July. By late summer, smaller streams and tarns may go dry, as they did in 2002.

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Postby TriHard » Fri Jun 29, 2007 9:26 am

I spent last weekend at Cottonwood Lakes. The streams are flowing with low volume but the lakes are full. I carry an MSR MiniWorks filter to pump water for drinking (just to be safe). I also drank water from the lakes with no ill affects. It was beautiful in the Cottonwood lakes basin. Enjoy your trip!
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Postby quentinc » Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:00 pm

It's very dry over Cottonwood Pass. There's always water at Chicken Spring Lake, but two other spots on the PCT (heading north from the pass) that normally have water had none in early June. The next spot for water is Rock Creek. Like the others, I wouldn't worry about purifying water once you are over the pass. When I do purify, I use iodine. Vitamin C removes the taste once the iodine has done its thing.
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Postby SPeacock » Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:57 am

Giardia is not the main problem. It is the bacteria from the human gut. Lots of nasty things to give you the trail runs. When you figure that many do not deposit feces far enough away from trail water and for all intents it is an open sewer.

In less populated areas where water is not running off from camp areas above you, then all you have to worry about are the stray bugs from other animals. Most bacteria in one species is not transferable to others.

The best tasting water in the Rockies I can remember was when after a long cross country we finally found a trail that led us to the most beautiful bubbling creek right at timberline. We sat down rested, drank, refilled water jugs drank more and took a nap then drank more. It was one of the most refreshing stops ever. There was nobody insight, and we hadn't seen a soul in over three days. We decided to follow the trail up and over the pass. About 100 yards up stream we found a very dead, bloated/exploded sheep laying such that the water was running around and through it. Apparently it was a victim of lightning.

It was still the best tasting water tho.
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Postby Mike McGuire » Sat Jun 30, 2007 7:15 pm

Here is very good discussion of giardia and the the unlikelihood of it's being a problem in the the Sierra.
http://www.californiamountaineer.com/giardia.pdf

Mike
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Postby jcampout@bellsouth.net » Sun Jul 01, 2007 8:09 am

Thanks for all the information folks, I appreciate your help. You've got a great website, glad I found it.
jc :thumbsup:
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