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Filter your water or not?

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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby mokelumnekid » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:22 pm

Don't filter except in the most obvious of over-crowded campsites. If everyone spent as much time washing their hands after they crap as they do pumping water, there would be no problems IMHO, point being that the proximal concentrated sources on hands even if barely dected, are way more potent than the highly diluted sources in most bodies of water at those elevations. Dilution effects in flowing water, including wind-wave stirred lakes, make most worries moot. Plus of the many "tummy troubles" that afflict people few are documented as being due to giardia strictly speaking. Are there people with stomach issues? Yes. Is it due to contaminated water? Not likely, especially not on the time scales of a trip.

But hey, if you feel more comfortable pumping than do it right? But I'm with Buck on this one- one part marketing, one part urban legend. (I am reminded of a similar experience back in the day when it was decided that we all had to backpack in those ridiculously heavy boots, I suffered for years in those things until I realized that the low-top, light weight construction boots I wore backpacking as a kid were JUST FINE. And I tend to carry big loads. Now I see people walking barefoot on the PCT fur chrissakes. I wouldn't go that far but point being that common sense and some kitchen table science will usually point the way).



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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby mokelumnekid » Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:43 am

And on another note- it seems that most of the studies (and folks on this forum) focus on Yosemite and SEKI regions. I wonder what the bug counts would be like in the "stock yards" to the north: the 6,000+ elevations of Sonora and Ebbetts Passes. There are drainages that are absolutely decimated by cattle wallowing, and the ground carpeted, I mean completely covered, with cow dung, and the whole area reeks of cattle. This includes many springs and wet meadows. Despite years of complaints and studies, the Stanislaus Nat'l. Foirest is managed in a very pro-cattle way and it shows- the beast lies heavy on the land.

But my point is only that I wonder how much higher counts would be in these areas- oddly there are places there where I pump for sure even if I don't further south.
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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby copeg » Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:04 am

Never had Giardia...not that that is any indication that I'm doing things right. I treat or not based upon where the water is coming from. If I'm unsure, I treat. If I'm sure, I don't. I usually take into consideration the popularity of upstream locations by both people and horses. On most occassions this usually amounts to me hauling the extra weight and using it a few times max on a trip - one of the reasons I often opt towards chemical treatments rather than the heavier alternatives. Of course these decisions come down to familiarity with the area...I think if I were thrown into an area I'm unfamiliar with, say if I were backpacking the Cascades or the Wind Rivers, I will most likely treat just to be on the safe side.
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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby gdurkee » Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:38 pm

Mokulmnekid is right. We do tend to concentrate on Yosemite & Sequoia kings. You're pretty safe there. But anywhere cattle have been -- even if off the range for over a year -- there's giardia cysts and you definitely want to filter for both giardia and chryptosporidium (hmmm. spelling -- another nasty stomach bug).

I'm not at all a fan of filters and almost never carry one but a lot of people are more susceptible to giardia and should definitely carry one. There's no question there's been cases from Sierra drinking water -- though as above, most of the cases are from poor hygiene.

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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby ERIC » Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:07 pm

Hells Bells, I posted a long response to this topic when it was first posted, but accidentally deleted it when using my post to test out a new bbcode. :retard:

So to answer the question (albeit, less eloquently than I did originally), no, I rarely if ever use a filter. And in my 20+ years of backcountry exploration, I have never caught 'the bug'. Like others have posted, I feel most so-called giardia cases are due to 'other' sanitary issues. And in agreement with another point already posted, I choose wisely the spots I dip my Nalgene straight from the drink. I do carry tablets in case I have no alternative, but to me, drinking unfiltered from the source is a top priority in fulfilling my personal perception of the "wilderness experience". Most times I plan my trips around water sources that potentially fit that goal.

I do have a retro PUR Hiker water filter up for grabs (pay shipping only), if anyone's interested. You can still find replacement filters online for this antique, believe it or not. :)
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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby ndwoods » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:10 am

I haven't filtered my water in over 15 years and have not been sick. I carry iodine and have used it 2 times in those years. I hike about 20-30 days a year....
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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby markorr » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:27 pm

ndwoods wrote:Pack or Burn your TP and leave the soap at home!.


I couldn't help but notice ndwoods' sig file. What's the consensus on burning TP? I used to do it in WA when the ground seemed saturated, but my wife's convinced me to always pack it out, especially in the Sierras. I'd hate to be responsible for starting a fire somewhere I love. Am I being overly paranoid?
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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby rlown » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:37 pm

In Yose above 9600', you are asked during the permitting process to pack out your TP. Below that where fires are permitted, we burn it.

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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby Mike McGuire » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:47 pm

rlown wrote:In Yose above 9600', you are asked during the permitting process to pack out your TP. Below that where fires are permitted, we burn it.

Russ


Seems like a dumb request to me. As I recall the reason for no fires over 9600' was to keep the sparse but beautiful timberline trees from being burnt for firewood. What possible harm can come from burning TP in situ where it was used--certainly not a fire hazard at that elevation. Sounds like the bureaucrats have forgotten the original reason and retreated to their default "Everything not forbidden is compulsory" attitude.

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Re: Filter your water or not?

Postby Buck Forester » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:36 am

That's why, no matter high I am, I always descend below 9600' to poop. Then I hike back up and continue on. :^o Or, if I'm at 10,600' and there's a 1,000' cliff, I can fire-up my used toilet paper and toss it off the cliff and it will land at the required elevation. :moon:

I'm not sure those two emoticons are visually compatible. :Þ
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