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Re: wilderness water refill stations?

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wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 01:17PM
I think I'm going to owe you all a steak dinner by the time I actually go to Yosemite next week. Thanks for all your advice and help.

Can't find any info online about whether there are water refill stations along any of the trails in the wilderness area.

If not, my plan is to use water purification tabs...I know certain parts of the country have parasites in the water that the tabs don't catch. Anybody know if this is the case at Yosemite?

avatar Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 01:29PM
There are lots of them.

We call them lakes, rivers, streams, and creeks.
avatar Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 03:34PM
ryandasan wrote:

> I think I'm going to owe you all a steak dinner by the time I
> actually go to Yosemite next week. Thanks for all your advice
> and help.
>
> Can't find any info online about whether there are water refill
> stations along any of the trails in the wilderness area.

Federal wilderness area designation precludes the installation of any kind of plumbing. I was going to say that I couldn't stop laughing when I saw the question, but that would have been rude. You want water - you find a stream, lake, or spring.

> If not, my plan is to use water purification tabs...I know
> certain parts of the country have parasites in the water that
> the tabs don't catch. Anybody know if this is the case at
> Yosemite?

There's definitely giardia in some water sources as well as bacteria. Sometimes even cryptosporidium from some domesticated animals (horses or pack animals) that are taken into the wilderness. Iodine tablets are cheaper and effective with anything except cryptosporidium. The only chemicals that take care of cryptosporidium are those that create or generate chlorine dixoide, which takes care of almost anything in the water you'd be worried about. Katadyn Micropur-1 and Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide are two brands. There are some electronic devices that convert table salt to chlorine dioxide. Cryptosporidium also requires a four-hour dwell time to be effective. For anything else, ClO2 only needs 30 minutes although FDA requirements don't allow for that kind of labelling any more.

Most would recommend getting a pump-action water filter. They trap bacteria, protozoans, and cysts (giardia or crypto). Viruses that affect humans are very unlikely in the wilderness, although you could additionally treat your water with iodine or chlorine which kills it quickly. Some water filters also have "purifier" stages with iodine-infused resins. MSR's Sweetwater purification system uses their standard water filter with an additional purification step of ordinary chlorine bleach (if you want to spend $10 on 1 oz of chlorine bleach).

A really effective method is a UV sterilizer. Kills pretty much everything in a few minutes and you don't need to pump. Boiling the water generally kills everything as soon as it reaches a full boil although the NPS recommends letting it boil for several minutes. Extra fuel is generally heavy and there's the issue of cooling time unless you're making a hot beverage or rehydrating a freeze-dried meal.

Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 03:45PM
Ryan,

Actually the High Sierra Camps have very limited drinking water available.
Often only available for guests. I wouldn't plan on using their water unless
you are staying with them.

This brings up the rather large topic of best water treatment methods.
There are many opinions on this.

Here is what I have learned:

The types are chemical (tablets, iodine crystals), mechanical filters,
and UV.

Tablets have limited shelf life. Iodine does not. Iodine has a taste
that some may not care for. Iodine can be over-dosed if not done
carefully.

Mechanical filters do not introduce a bad taste. They can get plugged
or have a leak (contamination). They are bulkier than chemicals. Some
filters are better than others.

UV is new to me. They require batteries. Not sure how effective they
are. This is how bottled water is treated, BTW.

All methods can benefit from pre-filtering if the water is not clear.
This means that you could not find a great source of water...

It is not clear that water treatment in the high country is really
necessary. A white paper was written that argues against it.

http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/giardia.htm

IMO this is a strong argument for bringing along small containers
of hand purifier, eg. Purell.

Personally, I use Purell on all hikes and backpacking trips. I keep
some in my daypack at all times.

I used to bring along the iodine, but now prefer mechanical filtration.

Have fun, and stay healthy!
avatar Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 04:00PM
RobE wrote:

> Tablets have limited shelf life. Iodine does not. Iodine has
> a taste
> that some may not care for. Iodine can be over-dosed if not
> done
> carefully.

Potable Aqua iodine tablets come with a recommendation that they should be opened no more than 4 years after manufacture (they don't come with a date though - just a manufacturing code) and should be completely used 1 year after opening. Supposedly oxygen will slowly degrade the iodine's efficacy. Vitamin C takes care of the taste/color (and stops the germ killing) and Potable Aqua has a two-bottle version (PA Plus) that includes a taste neutralization step.

> Mechanical filters do not introduce a bad taste. They can get
> plugged
> or have a leak (contamination). They are bulkier than
> chemicals. Some
> filters are better than others.

They might not remove any objectionable taste already in the water, unless they also have activated carbon filtration (like MSR Sweetwater).

> UV is new to me. They require batteries. Not sure how
> effective they
> are. This is how bottled water is treated, BTW.

At least one of the steps with some bottled water. My employer has a filtration + UV on-demand water filter.

> It is not clear that water treatment in the high country is
> really
> necessary. A white paper was written that argues against it.
>
> http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/giardia.htm
>
> IMO this is a strong argument for bringing along small
> containers
> of hand purifier, eg. Purell.
>
> Personally, I use Purell on all hikes and backpacking trips. I
> keep
> some in my daypack at all times.

You would have a good time arguing with Mary Malmros on rec.backcountry. She went apoplectic accusing people who advocated it of thinking their hands were somehow magically germ free. I kept on arguing that it should be used with the user understanding its proper use and limitations. My main concern about it would be the smell. I've used some kinds of alcohol gel that have a heavy perfumed smell. Purell has different scents, but are definitely scented. Not sure if it might be a bear attractant.

> I used to bring along the iodine, but now prefer mechanical
> filtration.
>
> Have fun, and stay healthy!

Absolutely have fun out there.

Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 04:31PM
YPW: Good points.

The selection of a method is largely a personal preference choice. There is
no right or wrong answer. They all work.

Regarding the taste of the water, in wilderness areas the taste of the
water through a filter always seems to be excellent. I don't see an
issue there.

You make good points about Purell. I agree that you should not rely
solely on it for cleaning your hands. It is a finishing step.

Glad you brought up that it could be a bear attractant. I tend to store
it with the toothpaste in the bear-safe container. Just to be sure.

I don't notice an odor with mine, but a bear might be able to smell it,
I suppose.

As I said before, this is what I do. What others choose to do is their choice.

Having read the paper that I mentioned in my earlier post, I now worry
less about the water in the Sierra. I still purify though. The paper also
has good advice about where to collect your water.
avatar Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 04:52PM
RobE wrote:

> YPW: Good points.
>
> The selection of a method is largely a personal preference
> choice. There is
> no right or wrong answer. They all work.
>
> Regarding the taste of the water, in wilderness areas the taste
> of the
> water through a filter always seems to be excellent. I don't
> see an
> issue there.

I've found some convenient water sources were filtered through pine needles and the water had a noticeable tinge. Still - the taste of the chlorine dioxide pretty much masked that. ;-)

Oh - I think that crystalline iodine probably has an indefinite shelf life. Those Potable Aqua tablets are formed from some kind of powder and I suppose their quick-dissolving form is probably more susceptible to oxygen degradation.

> You make good points about Purell. I agree that you should not
> rely
> solely on it for cleaning your hands. It is a finishing step.
>
>
> Glad you brought up that it could be a bear attractant. I tend
> to store
> it with the toothpaste in the bear-safe container. Just to be
> sure.

I've seen many different types. Germ-X has one type and some coworkers have objected to my use of it. Purell is more mild soap like and probably not as strong.

I personally use Wet Ones Outdoors moist towlettes, which carries no fragrance and uses benzethonium chloride as the germ killing agent.

Last year I was sort of taken aback when the ranger at the permit station told me I had to store my used toilet paper in my bear canister. I just held off on number two until I could get to the LYV outhouse.

> I don't notice an odor with mine, but a bear might be able to
> smell it,
> I suppose.
>
> As I said before, this is what I do. What others choose to do
> is their choice.

I saw someone put his lips right to the spring and drink. To each his own. I suppose he's got an extra heavy duty immune system.

> Having read the paper that I mentioned in my earlier post, I
> now worry
> less about the water in the Sierra. I still purify though.
> The paper also
> has good advice about where to collect your water.

Always good to learn as much as one can.

avatar Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 05:11PM
I used the Steripen UV sterilizer with a pre-filter. I got water out of the Merced for myself and two friends. It was pretty quick and easy once I got used to the process. None of us got the poops or anything like that, so I guess it worked winking smiley
avatar Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 08:36PM
I recently purchased the steripen, and it has a lot of advantages. I'd recommend that you bring an extra battery. The one that comes with the pen doesn't last nearly as long as they suggest. A couple friends and I had to cut a trip short because of this.

Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 08:33PM
I drink out of the Merced all the time (upstream of the campgrounds)...the water tastes great, icy cold, and have never had an issue.

Bob Rockwell's article that was linked by Rob is an enlightening one; after reading it some time ago, and doing some more investigation, I realized that we've likely been fed a bunch of baloney all these years. One of the interesting stats is that San Francisco's water supply, deemed pure enough for no treatment, has more giardia than Yosemite's rivers, in general. So I carry a stainless cup with a carrabiner for a handle clipped to my pack or belt, and dip away, nothing simpler.

Another interesting aspect of the supposed contamination of Sierra rivers is that if anyone gets anything after a trip, what do they do? Blame the water, of course.

I do carry a Katadyn hiker filter...can't stand the taste of Iodine and I can't quite believe it's absolutely harmless to us anyway...it would be ironic to get some illness caused by Iodine that was used to prevent the giardia that proabably wasn't an issue in the first place 8^). When there's a reason to doubt the purity, the filter does the job fairly easily. I think the UV pens are effective, but I have enough battery stuff, and it doesn't filter out the dirt, and areas with dirty water would be the likely place I'd want to treat it.

Again, borrowing from Bob Rockwell's thoughts, "drink smart" is the key; running water that looks clean, and you know there's not a cattle ranch upstream might be considered safe, where a foamy trailside trickle from unknown origin with a dead cow just over the bluff would probably best be avoided or at least treated well...8^)





Gary
Yosemite Photo Galleries: http://www.pbase.com/roberthouse/yo
avatar Re: wilderness water refill stations?
April 24, 2008 10:27PM
Sierrafan wrote:

> I drink out of the Merced all the time (upstream of the
> campgrounds)...the water tastes great, icy cold, and have never
> had an issue.
>
> Bob Rockwell's article that was linked by Rob is an
> enlightening one; after reading it some time ago, and doing
> some more investigation, I realized that we've likely been fed
> a bunch of baloney all these years. One of the interesting
> stats is that San Francisco's water supply, deemed pure enough
> for no treatment, has more giardia than Yosemite's rivers, in
> general. So I carry a stainless cup with a carrabiner for a
> handle clipped to my pack or belt, and dip away, nothing
> simpler.

I've heard this before, but San Francisco's water supply is treated with chloramine. I don't know if they need the basic filtration, aeration, chlorine dioxide, etc that most water supplies go through, but they do at least put something minimal in it to kill the nasties like bacteria. Or it could just be for some mild effect with microorganisms that get picked up along the system.

http://sfwater.org/mto_main.cfm/MC_ID/13/MSC_ID/166/MTO_ID/399

I've read that some on SF worry because chloramine doesn't take care of cryptosporidium, which other municipal water supplies eliminate with micron filtration and chlorine dioxide. My water supplier goes through a whole bunch of steps, and my new house is just a few blocks from one of their treatment plants. It's surrounded with barbed wire fence and lots of trees.

http://www.ebmud.com/water_&_environment/water_quality/water_treatment_plants/default.htm

> Again, borrowing from Bob Rockwell's thoughts, "drink smart" is
> the key; running water that looks clean, and you know there's
> not a cattle ranch upstream might be considered safe, where a
> foamy trailside trickle from unknown origin with a dead cow
> just over the bluff would probably best be avoided or at least
> treated well...8^)

I was considering going to Isle Royale NP backpacking. They absolutely recommend filtering or boiling because the moose tend to unload their wares, which include several assorted parasites.
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