Welcome to SP!  -
Areas & RangesMountains & RocksRoutesImagesArticlesTrip ReportsGearOtherPeoplePlans & PartnersWhat's NewForum

Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Regional discussion and conditions reports for the Golden State. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the California Climbing Partners forum.
 

Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby JHH60 » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:38 pm

I'm planning on taking the family on a Skyline-to-sea backpacking trip this weekend. This is a 30 mile hike from the ridgeline of the Santa Cruz mountains (3000') down to the ocean north of Santa Cruz; as I've got the kids along we're breaking it into three ten mile segments, corresponding to the places on the trail where water is available and camping allowed. The trail passes through the backwoods areas of some state parks (Castle Rock and Big Basin), but passes near some roads and developed rural areas. The only water on the first 20 miles of the trail is piped water at a trail camp 10 miles into the hike, where we will be spending the night. I was thinking about backup plans in case piped water wasn't available but we didn't want to either hike 10 miles back to the trailhead or 10 miles to the next water. There are creeks that run along parts of the trail but I have no idea how safe it is to drink creek water from developed areas even if filtered and boiled and/or treated with iodine, considering the proximity to highways, farms, etc. I'm thinking here not of micro-organisms but of chemical contaminants from the road and or farms (e.g., detergents, contaminants from nearby roads, nitrates, etc.). Any water experts on the board? I'm more curious than anything - thinking also about what my options might be if the next big one were to hit the Bay Area and we were short on bottled water (there's a creek that runs from the coast range mountains down near our house).
User Avatar
JHH60

 
Posts: 1172
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:59 pm
Location: Belmont, California, United States
Thanked: 94 times in 78 posts

Re: Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby norco17 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:21 am

I am assuming you have looked at a map and scene what is actually up stream from where you would be drinking. If you can find a stream with minimal farming and industry upstream than filter and drink. The answer to your question really depends on what contaminates you are fighting. For many things one days worth of drinking is not a big deal yet this depends on what is in the water and who(children, elderly, pregnant) is drinking it.

The other option is find out from someone if there is water at this campsite you mentioned. If not pretend you are doing a three day desert hike. An extra fifty pounds of water isn't that bad. :twisted:
User Avatar
norco17

 
Posts: 823
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 12:53 am
Location: riverside, California, United States
Thanked: 167 times in 109 posts

Re: Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby JHH60 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:50 am

There is supposed to be water 10 mi into the trail, but just thinking about options in case the water isn't there. It's one thing to spend a dry night and following day on the trail when your expected water isn't there, or carry several days of water per person, both of which I've done, and another thing to make your kids do that on their second real backpacking trip. :)

I did a little research after posting this on the forum and was advised by a park ranger to be sure to use a .2 micron water filter if I wanted to drink the creek water (which I would certainly do, and probably also treat it with iodine or boil it to kill any viruses). But they also said that their water report on the creek indicated high levels of nitrates in the water, presumably from livestock in farms upstream, and/or from runoff of bird guano from a state road that runs upstream, and didn't advise drinking it even if treated.
User Avatar
JHH60

 
Posts: 1172
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:59 pm
Location: Belmont, California, United States
Thanked: 94 times in 78 posts

Re: Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby Enkidu » Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:15 am

JHH60 wrote: But they also said that their water report on the creek indicated high levels of nitrates in the water, presumably from livestock in farms upstream, and/or from runoff of bird guano from a state road that runs upstream, and didn't advise drinking it even if treated.


See if you can find out how high the nitrate levels actually are. Nitrate is usually only a concern for infants and pregnant women. The US standard is 10 mg/L, however this is designed to protect infants and pregnant women. A healthy adult can consume much higher levels (100 mg/L) with negligible health risk over the short term. You can even compensate somewhat by adjusting your diet to reduce your nitrate base load. If you eliminate the 100 to 250 mg present in your diet you can then consume this much more from your water source. Most dietary nitrate comes from processed meat and veggies (due to fertilizer and nitrogen uptake from the soil).
Bring a compass. It's awkward when you have to eat your friends
User Avatar
Enkidu

 
Posts: 96
Joined: Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:56 am
Location: Ontario, Canada
Thanked: 54 times in 40 posts

Re: Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby lcarreau » Thu Aug 16, 2012 1:17 am

Oh, come on .... Bear Grylls wouldn't mind a little bit of bird guano !!! :!:

Image
User Avatar
lcarreau

 
Posts: 4056
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:27 pm
Location: Court of the Crimson King, Arizona, United States
Thanked: 937 times in 700 posts

Re: Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby JHH60 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:28 pm

lcarreau wrote:Oh, come on .... Bear Grylls wouldn't mind a little bit of bird guano !!! :!:

Image


I think you have the wrong photo - that's Bear Gollum...
User Avatar
JHH60

 
Posts: 1172
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:59 pm
Location: Belmont, California, United States
Thanked: 94 times in 78 posts

Re: Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby jareds » Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:56 pm

I hiked/ran that trail last month (in a day!), much of it between Castle Rock and Big Basin is along roads etc. don't recall seeing much running water.

From BB to the end(mile 20-32) is along a stream, i probably would have drank it if I had a filter. Wouldn't drink it straight as the area is really developed overall.

(FWIW I'm generally pretty loose about water, i'll drink from a creek if I think it might be fine...)

I'd suggest packing most of a day's water on each 10-mile day and then planning on running dry at like mile 7 or so. There was ample water at BB(a store! gatorade!) and the campground in between had a spigot as I recall. You're not gonna get lost on that trail - worst case is you get injured, you're only a few hours from help at most.
User Avatar
jareds

 
Posts: 219
Joined: Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:00 am
Location: San Francisco, California, United States
Thanked: 13 times in 7 posts

Re: Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby JHH60 » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:24 pm

jareds wrote:I hiked/ran that trail last month (in a day!), much of it between Castle Rock and Big Basin is along roads etc. don't recall seeing much running water.

From BB to the end(mile 20-32) is along a stream, i probably would have drank it if I had a filter. Wouldn't drink it straight as the area is really developed overall.

(FWIW I'm generally pretty loose about water, i'll drink from a creek if I think it might be fine...)

I'd suggest packing most of a day's water on each 10-mile day and then planning on running dry at like mile 7 or so. There was ample water at BB(a store! gatorade!) and the campground in between had a spigot as I recall. You're not gonna get lost on that trail - worst case is you get injured, you're only a few hours from help at most.


Thanks - that was my plan. I've hiked or run most of the trail myself but never more than 10 miles in day (20 mi RT) as I never had a ride at the other end and had to turn around in the middle. A couple running buddies have done the whole thing however. The pace setters are going to be the women in the family (11 and 50) who are in pretty good shape but aren't runners, so I'll have to plan on having enough water to keep them hydrated throughout the day or I'm going to suffer long after the weekend is over. :)

I've seen the water in the stream from BB to Waddell Beach look nice and clean and but also seen it look hazy and nasty. As a teen I suffered through several days of terrible diarrhea from backcountry CO Rockies water that everyone assured me was clean and pure, I tend to err on the side of caution...
User Avatar
JHH60

 
Posts: 1172
Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:59 pm
Location: Belmont, California, United States
Thanked: 94 times in 78 posts

Re: Drinking Creek Water in Developed Areas

Postby lcarreau » Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:55 pm

JHH60 wrote:
I think you have the wrong photo - that's Bear Gollum...


Image
User Avatar
lcarreau

 
Posts: 4056
Joined: Thu Sep 06, 2007 10:27 pm
Location: Court of the Crimson King, Arizona, United States
Thanked: 937 times in 700 posts

The following user would like to thank lcarreau for this post
JHH60


Return to California

 


  • Related topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests

© 2006-2013 SummitPost.org. All Rights Reserved.