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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 ScoobyMike » Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:52 am

Sole reliance on water & sunlight, does this mean you will be nude? :-) that really would be traveling light...



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

Postby kpeter » Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:07 am

Well, Circus, I think I understand where you are coming from. Your beliefs may be an important part of your spirituality and/or world view. I sense a strong skepticism about science, and acknowledge that science is a process and not a simple accumulation of facts; that science is always in flux and revises itself as it investigates the world.

While your views are your own just so long as they concern you, you do need to ask yourself some important questions about how your views may affect others before you undertake your trip. If you become too weak to complete your trip, will you expect others to help you, perhaps at great expense, perhaps at personal risk to themselves, or at the least at great inconvenience? If I came across you and thought you needed help, I would abort my own trip to help, regardless. Are you willing to put other people in that position? One way you could have it both ways is to carry a substantial supply of energy bars sufficient to feed a retreat from the wilderness "just in case" you can't make it on a water diet.

Getting to your original question, I have no specific knowledge about Ph of Sierra water. I always assumed that a lot of Sierra water is very "hard" with lots of dissolved minerals--but obviously that would not be true of recent snowmelt.

With regard to Sabrina--the campground just downstream from the Dam has water from a tap where I refilled on my trek last summer. Whether they get it from the reservoir, stream, or deep underground I do not know. It tasted good.
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 23, 2012 12:24 pm

Another red flag arises here with the brief comment; "one reason to never wear sunglasses or glasses."

Sorry but...Have you ever been to 11,000 feet Sierra before? Ever walked a few sun-cupped miles under a bright azure sky across a blinding snow field? The sun up there can really tear you up.
While I can deeply respect and admire both your spirituality and holistic beliefs, you may be biting off a bit more than you can digest safely here. (Oops, sorry again, you said you were not taking any food either).

Hope your plans work out - keep us posted.
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby rlown » Thu Feb 23, 2012 2:02 pm

why do we care? You should either be buying lures, flies, or a new sleeping bag about now. We've seen naked people out there before. Go with your choice of god. If you get burned, we'll help if we're around. If you're sick, we'll help if we're around. If you choose, just dance around in your burnt state, we might ignore you.

Just don't be stupid. It's a burn fest at 11k. water is water. If you don't eat, you'll soon be in convulsions.
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby Wandering Daisy » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:24 pm

I will ingore the stupidity of your venture, but answer the question about pH of Sierra water. Rainwater in equilibrium with granite is acidic- pH of about 5.6 This is how water can erode rock. Water in a stream located high in the moutains, comes from rain, contacts granite. Much of the Sierra is granitc. Some of the sierra is NOT granitic. In general though, most of the high Sierra water is at least mildly acidic. There is usually not enough contact time in flowing water to reach the pH of equilibrium, so I suspect lots of water is only slightly acidic. As the water flows to lower elevations it leaches minerals from the rock that it flows over and oxygenates. These processes change the chamical nature of the water. Acidic water tastes "sweet". The primary source of alkaline water is from groundwater- such as water from springs and from desert surface water where evaporation concentrates the minerals. Acidic water tastes good; alkaline water tastes flat, slimy and soapy. One thing I do not like about chlorine tablets to purify water is that the water is left with a really flat taste - becomes more alkaline. So one test of the pH of mountain water is simply to taste it. If it tastes good and sweet it is likely acidic. One place you DO have to worry about acidic water is stagnant water in some old mining areas where toxic minerals may be leached into the water. The pH of some of these waters is as low as 4.0. In general the rain and snow melt flushes out many stagnant water sources.

Acidity within limits is not bad for you. pH of 4.0=not great; ph=6.0 probably OK for humans, particularly if you are talking short term consumption, not your life-long source of water. Fish, and aquatic life are more sensitive. Acidification of lakes due to air polution (like sulfur in the air brought into lakes by rain falling through polluted air) can cause lakes to become very acidic and kill sensitive aquatic life. Much of the tiny aquatic critters are feed for fish, so fish also die. I really do not remember if it is the acidity itself, or the fact that the acid waters contain sulfur, and thus the acidity forms weak sulfuric acid. High mountain lakes are naturally acidic so it does not take a lot of polution to send the pH very low. This is a matter of the "buffering capacity" of the water. It simply cannot absorb (neutralize) much added acidity so tends to quicky become overly acidic. Rainwater in equilibrium with pure granite (silicon dioxide) is low pH but it does not contain lots of sulfur or other toxic ions. Dump that water on a mineral vein and let it sit a long time, and bad stuff can leach out. In fact, water in contact with mineral veins for geologically long times is common in groundwater. Surface water gets flushed out much quicker.

There are data out there for some of the Sierra water bodies. Google USGS, Sierra Nevada, water quality or look throught the CA DWR website called "CDEC".
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby gdurkee » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:57 pm

Well, is this not a great return to the 60s or what? However tempting, I'll pass on the nutso aspects of your plan -- at least confine your trip to Yosemite! My northern colleagues are so much better and gung-ho at SAR than I am... .

Wild Daisy has it right. Most of the Sierra is granite. You get very few minerals in the water except in areas of metamorphics and volcanics. So maybe what you want is a geologic map. Between Yosemite and southern Sequoia Park, metamorphics are mostly as roof pendants right at the crest of the Sierra. I suppose, then, the pH of the water could be very, very slightly different in runoff from those areas.

I guess I will weigh in with one actual danger: hypernatrimia. That's an electrolyte imbalance caused by TOO MUCH water and NOT ENOUGH electrolytes. It's manifested by an altered mental state, seizures and death. I've only seen it in people who are chugging water and not eating enough (to get some salts/electrolytes). Distance runners sometimes get it, which is similar to what you'll be doing.

In my youth, I ran into a guy who thought he'd get all his sustenance from drinking water and eating (!) powdered lemonade. Met him on the Half Dome trail. Called a helicopter for him the next day.

I love the smell of the 60s in the morning; it's the smell of overtime!

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

Postby maverick » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:30 pm

I will not condemn you, call you stupid, or belittle what your doing because of not
understanding what you are doing, that would make me intolerant of another
persons views or beliefs.
What would be nice if you would shed some light (briefly) on what type of experience
you have doing this, something that will put are minds at ease, because just saying
that you are going to the Sierra for 2 weeks, and planning to live on water alone does
come across as someone who doesn't know what there doing, are plain nuts, or are just
trying to get a rise out of everyone here, if you get my drift.
We care about our fellow backpackers/human beings here at HST! Your safety, and the
safety of those impacted by your experiment/quest are all important to all of us.

No where did the OP write that this was going to be attempted nude, that was just
"ScoobyMike" injecting his humor.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

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

Postby markskor » Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:00 pm

circusoflife wrote: During this upcoming trip I will be water fasting (No food of any kind)... 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.


True enough, OP does not specifically say naked, but does somewhat imply his wearing limited clothing in that anything blocking UV rays - (sunglasses - clothes?) will seriously interfere with his intended fast/Sierra pilgrimage and/or bacterial cleansing process where UV light is absorbed through the skin...whatever.
Personally, I am intrigued by this entire episode but worried that his extended fortnight odyssey may prove a bit too much "exposure".
Like I said intrigued - Post a trail report afterwards please.
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby maverick » Thu Feb 23, 2012 7:21 pm

Markskor wrote:
Like I said intrigued - Post a trail report afterwards please.


Me too, and please do.
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby sparky » Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:36 pm

I just feel this topic is more to bait and call for attention. You are going to rely on what randoms from the internet tell you about ph levels of the water you will sustain yourself with?

Just sitting here in my chair I would imagine you will be testing and altering your water as needed? I am just trying to wrap my head around a few people saying "yeah, youre good" then you skip naked into the sunset with no food. Perhaps im simply missing the point of posing the question here...... wouldnt be the first time.

I am about as open minded as one can be, and i say do what you feel. You claim to have done this before. I have been in snow without sunglasses for days and it wasnt a big deal. Could be a combination of luck and other things, but this sounds pretty reckless as well. How much UV loss will there be if you decide to wear shades? The eyes absorb more UV than skin? Will the risk outweigh the reward?
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby sparky » Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:42 pm

Im curious, where are you from?

Edit: i see you would like to leave the papers/chemicals at home. I think this is a very bad idea. What kind of buffer zone do you have with ph? You have to imagine multi week trips, your water will have variations. I would think it vital for it to stay in balance.

Tell us about past trips doing this?
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Re: Water pH / quality in Sierra Nevada streams / springs / lak

Postby AlmostThere » Fri Feb 24, 2012 8:30 am

So, you are soooooooo concerned about pH but not at all concerned that you will be depriving the chemical processes in your body of nutrients to keep them running so you will think rationally, be warm and have energy for the amount of work you expect your body to do.

You think that UV is no problem. I had cataract surgery in my early 30s because I did not wear sunglasses. You can bet that I wear them now. If you neglect your sunglasses in high open granite and snowfields, you WILL GO BLIND. A friend of mine figured that out as she started squinting and getting headaches while we were hiking high. People have gone blind before in the high country. Burning your retinas is not conducive to your safe return.

Letting your energies deplete will lead to your getting cold at night and more prone to hypothermia. The body will start to consume muscle mass and break itself down - that is a fact.

You should fast at home for a week. Then pick up the backpack and hike for a few miles, and see how you do. Same principle as testing gear. Then sleep out in the back yard to see how well you do at keeping yourself warm.
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