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Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

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Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby circusoflife » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:12 pm

Does anyone here know about the water quality that is available in SN for drinking?
Specifically along the JMT and areas around Garnet Lake and Lake Sabrina. And perhaps the water fountains at Agnew Meadows, etc...campgrounds at trailheads.

The type of water I drink is very important -- not all water is created equal.

Is the water in lakes just melted glacier/snow water? Does the water in streams / lakes come up from an underground source or is that just melted snow?

Has anyone here ever measured the pH from different sources? PPM content?

The difference is important because glacier / snow water will (tend) not have any minerals in it and will have a low pH (acidic) whereas spring water (from underground sources) will (tend to) be alkaline and a higher pH due to minerals picked up from percolating up.

I'm tempted to bring a pH meter / solution with me...but on a multi week trip would prefer not to

Any insights appreciated.



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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby rlown » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:28 pm

you're not serious, right? If it's important to you (water quality, check it yourself on the trail!)

Umm, I thought I'd say more but water is water (for me filtered, of course).. just bring a filter.

Russ
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby markskor » Wed Feb 22, 2012 5:40 pm

Sierra water purity?

Some use filters (in-line, ceramic, etc), others depend on drops (Aqua Mura)...some prefer to boil their water, a few rely on chlorine, others Iodine, and there are those who utilize electronic gadgets and gizmos like a Steripen...never considered a pH meter though. Undoubtedly, take one of each along and make sure. HYOH.

However, like I may have mentioned before: Hiking smart includes drinking smart.
BTW, I have not filtered any Sierra water (above 6,000 foot elevation) in the last 25 years, but then I only get out 50 - 60 days a season. YMMV.
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:00 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination, and where the trail ends is where our adventures begin.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby circusoflife » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:13 pm

I guess I should have rephrased the question...it is not the safety of the water that concerns me...although I do have a Steripen that I may or may not use depending on the situation.

Not so concerned about micro-organisms / contamination per se...more just about the acid vs alkalinity aspect. It's the (inorganic) minerals I desire. It relates to our bioelectricity / electrolyte levels - which relates to our energy levels.

At home I use a reverse osmosis filter with a calcite cartridge which produces water with a pH of 9.5+ from tap water that is a little over pH 7.

During this upcoming trip I will be water fasting (No food of any kind) and relying solely on water and sunlight. I think I said I was traveling very light earlier! :) No worries about bears!

For a short trip the water pH is not too important as our bodies have sufficient mineral reserves. However, on a longer multi-week trip if one is to only drink acidic water (No minerals) one would slowly get weaker for one's internal electrolyte levels would gradually go down.

On a side note by eating less/ no food / higher water content food (fruits) -- there is less concern about getting sick from contaminated water or getting sick in general, as the UV rays that enter our system can purify our blood (which is 80% water) better. It's called UV transmittance.
UV light kills viruses / bacteria INSIDE our body...

The interaction of UV light inside our body is similar to what a Steripen does...one reason to never wear sunglasses or glasses / contact lenses of any kind. Most contacts also block UV.
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby maverick » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:20 pm

HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination, and where the trail ends is where our adventures begin.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby circusoflife » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:30 pm

Thanks for the link Maverick. The REI article too is semi-helpful from a general perspective.

I did not think to bring any sort of solution to add electrolytes to water. I've never done that before - though I think I heard about it quite sometime ago.

I guess that is one way to "guarantee" I get enough minerals. Xlnt idea...it sounds like one of these bottles or similar product may indeed be part of my pack. I can test it at home first by adding the solution to distilled/pure reverse-osmosis water (Simulating glacier/rain/snow water) then measuring the pH/ppm. Make that, I would test it since I am a little paranoid about matters such as this.

cool...
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby circusoflife » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:46 pm

This is the product that I had heard of before...I read the guy's book too some time ago...and enjoyed it.

http://www.alkalife.com/

I've never used it before...and frankly...was a bit skeptical for various reasons. Perhaps because it wasn't a good long term solution for my alkaline water needs (Which is how I ended up with a RO system and calcite cartridge, which also gets rid of plastic contamination from PVC pipes..) ...but this backpacking trip is of a short term nature.

Sound like I have some "home lab testing" to do....
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby freestone » Wed Feb 22, 2012 6:56 pm

http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/apr/past ... 32-192.pdf

This PDF covers a very specific area of the Sierra, around the Crater Mountain and Pinochet Pass areas. It's mostly about PH, bugs, frogs and fish, but it may help you in understanding the factors controlling PH in Sierra waters. It certainly helped me in discover the possibilities of this area for my favorite Sierra pastime.
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby pez_leon » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:18 am

circusoflife wrote:During this upcoming trip I will be water fasting (No food of any kind) and relying solely on water and sunlight. I think I said I was traveling very light earlier! :) No worries about bears!

For a short trip the water pH is not too important as our bodies have sufficient mineral reserves. However, on a longer multi-week trip if one is to only drink acidic water (No minerals) one would slowly get weaker for one's internal electrolyte levels would gradually go down.


And from viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7428&p=52660#p52660 :

circusoflife wrote:1) My hiking trip is anywhere from 3-4 weeks I'm guessing, so I should just enter in the last possible date that I might leave?

Please advise.


(Emphasis mine)

I suggest that your concern over the pH of water is misplaced. If I understand you correctly, your plan is to spend more than two weeks simultaneously (a) covering a great deal of mileage at altitude and (b) eating nothing. This strikes me as a terrible idea. While I'm not a nutritionist, I've never seen anything to suggest that minerals and electrolytes will provide you with the energy you'll need to be anything more than a cautionary tale by the end of your trip. What you're talking about is as long as a dangerous hunger strike, as physiologically demanding as several marathons, and situated in a remote location where help will never be close at hand. I certainly wouldn't do it.
Your primary concern for your upcoming trip to a dangerous and remote place should be bringing food, warmth, and shelter. Until you address those needs, mineral supplements are unimportant.

James
Last edited by pez_leon on Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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