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Sierra Water

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby papasequoia » Thu Feb 28, 2013 12:54 am

Of course, it's the time of year that you are drinking the water that may affect it the most. :D

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Re: Sierra Water

Postby Scouter9 » Thu Feb 28, 2013 11:55 am

Well, I think pretty much all the water that I'd deign to drink in the Sierra tastes pretty good. I tend to eschew standing or potentially stagnant water (or say puddles in hoof prints) and prefer moving water if only for the resolution of the stagnancy issue. I do filter, regardless.
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby sekihiker » Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:38 pm

I prefer snowmelt, that is, water that is flowing from under a snowbank. Not only is it cold and tasty, but I'm pretty sure that it doesn't have a lot of impurities in it. Now that I know that lake water is OK to drink (UV kills microbes in upper 10cm), it's usually pretty good tasting but usually not cool enough for my preference. Now and then, I've run across some springs that produce especially fine tasting water. One that comes to mind is a few hundred yards east of Cycalmen Lake Pass where the water was bubbling out of decomposed granite.
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby whrdafamI? » Mon Mar 11, 2013 4:53 pm

Rather then taking a chance, for the most part I pump anymore. I have seen so much bad behavior on the part of others its just not worth it. Its easier then having to dig a cat hole over and over. The only place I drink straight from the source is Columbine Spring in Ice House Canyon. If there is anything in that water it has earned the right. Best tasting spring water I have ever found.
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:04 pm

For the last 15 years, I have hardly ever filtered. I only bring a filter under certain circumstances.
I filter when...:
1) ...I am in a real high population area. For example, I would not drink unfiltered water anywhere down stream from the Merced River HSC.
2) ...It is late season and I am likely to be in a dried up area with only brackish pools available for water. For example late season near the headwaters of the Merced River drainage can be very dry, with only the lakes available for (unfiltered) water. Brackish pools may be the only water source.
3) Anywhere that is likely to be infested with cows, horses or too many people.
4) and so on.

I am particular about where I get my water from. Early season almost any runoff is naturally filtered, in particular if you know that above where the water is coming from there are no (or extremely few) people, or cows and horses. High lakes are sterile, getting more UV than a steri-pen. Perfectly safe unless infested with people and horses, etc.

I have talked to many back-country Rangers and all that I met never filtered, never got sick, even drinking out of major back-country rivers (like the Kern). The back-country is flushed out every spring, making it more than unlikely you will drink something bad, unless you do something foolish (see above). Almost all back-country water is far better than tap water.
As always, suit yourself.
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby oldranger » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:23 am

Doyle

I have talked to many back-country Rangers and all that I met never filtered, never got sick, even drinking out of major back-country rivers (like the Kern).


Guess you haven't talked to enough BC rangers! Probably a high percentage don't filter (I seldom did) but I know at least 3 who got giardiasis.

Also if you are going to pick a time not to filter as I understand it spring/early season is the worst time to use moving water, just because, as you say the system is getting "flushed" and there is overland runoff contributing to the amount of giardia spores floating downstream.

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Re: Sierra Water

Postby markskor » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:40 am

oldranger wrote: I understand it spring/early season is the worst time to use moving water, just because, as you say the system is getting "flushed" and there is overland runoff contributing to the amount of giardia spores floating downstream.
Mike

Not convinced that this is true. Giardia does not overwinter higher up…exposure to < 30º for a month kills all cysts…Snow? (I am still convinced that cattle and stock are primarily responsible for yearly re-introduction in areas of the Sierra where snow is prevalent).

The cysts (the long-term infective stage) sink and are naturally filtered out as they tumble downhill with the yearly, flushing, spring water runoff. Yes, early season, especially lower down in the Sierra, you would probably experience the greatest number of cysts traveling with early spring flush, but the tremendous volume of water moving would counteract this/ even things out.

IMHO, the worst time to use moving water is late summer, right after a rain.

I look for/ prefer those ice-cold, fern-infested, have-to-stick-your-head-in, canyon springs that seem to bubble out from nowhere. Nothing like a few thousand feet of solid granite to filter out everything.
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:48 am

Please people, no more about Giardia :puke:, this thread is purely about the taste
of water. The Giardia subject was just done to death for the 100th time recently
in "The Campfire" Section. Thanks
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby rlown » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:01 pm

even if you filter, the water tastes the same. still recommend filtering.
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 12, 2013 12:15 pm

The taste of water is a function of pH, mineral content and disolved organics, even though you have limited this post to "subjective" criteria. I rarely filter or treat water in the High Serria. I like my water very cold so rather dip water out of streams on the way than carry it around in a plastic bottle. My only bad experinece was at Evolution Lake. Collected water. Went back to wash off and stepped on a rock and up floated a dead decomposed rat. I went back to camp, dumped the water, walked back up the trail half a mile to a side stream to get water. I just could not handle the "yuk" factor of drining water out of the lake.
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby fishmonger » Tue Mar 12, 2013 1:12 pm

I used to filter, then broke a filter and had to continue without, which worked fine for many years. In 2010 then, I learned first hand what it means to "have giardia" - never figured out where exactly I got it (best guess is Sunrise Creek in Yosemite). Perhaps you only know the Sierra really well when you experience first hand what these critters can do to your body.

I still won't filter everything, but I will always bring a filter with me and use it when not sure about the quality of the water I am about to drink. The lower the elevation and the later the season, the more I filter (giardia dies in winter, needs to get re-introduced)
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Re: Sierra Water

Postby DoyleWDonehoo » Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:10 pm

rlown wrote:even if you filter, the water tastes the same. still recommend filtering.

Not to me. Another reason not to filter is the taste. Run it through a filter and it tastes different.
If you don't filter, it is common sense as some have pointed out. There are just times, places and elevations that makes sense to filter. Most of the time in the high country above 8000 feet, you just don't need it and a filter is just dead weight.

The weirdest water I have tasted in recent years was my second trip (of three) that ran through Ottoway Lake. Above the iron trail sign there is a great spacious camp with a narrow stream running through it. I went up stream a ways and got water, and it tasted a bit like brimstone or sulfur. Didn't drink it. The next trip I tried it again and it was fine. Strange. All were late season trips.
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