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

water filters

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

water filters

Postby sierraman » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:37 am

So I was getting a wilderness permit last summer when this girl ranger starts giving me a 10 minute lecture on water quality. According to her all the streams and lakes in Yosemite are crawling with giardia and you risk your life by not filtering every drop of drinking water In fact, she even confided to me that she herself had contracted giardia the month before by merely brushing her teeth with unfiltered water. I was a tad skeptical since I've made maybe 200 backpacking trips over the past 40 years and have never even owned a water filter. Anyway, I'm wondering how many people filter all their water, how many filter sometimes and how many never filter. A casual browse through the ads in Backpacker magazine will easily convince you that selling water filters is big business. Filters may be essential in some locals, but I question their necessity in the Sierra Nevada.
User Avatar
sierraman

 
Posts: 127
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2007 4:40 am
Location: vacaville, California, United States
Thanked: 6 times in 6 posts

Re: water filters

Postby radson » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:05 am

I used a CamelBak All clear for 3 months last year. Awesome device. Its not exactly a filter but bloody handy when dealing with suspected dodgy water.
User Avatar
radson

 
Posts: 1935
Joined: Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:34 pm
Location: Sydney, Australia
Thanked: 109 times in 76 posts

Re: water filters

Postby mtneering » Sun Feb 17, 2013 7:55 am

I treat ALL water ALWAYS and EVERYWHERE I go. Just me! Was once on Grand Teton pumping water, a guy came up next to me scooped his water bottle in same stream and was on his way. CHOICES we all have to make. Been doing a lot more in the Sierra as of late, will treat there again just me. Origanally an east coaster and treated there as well when pumping from streams/rivers ect...
User Avatar
mtneering

 
Posts: 246
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:47 am
Location: San Diego, California, United States
Thanked: 2 times in 1 post

Re: water filters

Postby mrchad9 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 9:13 am

I've taken unfiltered water out of nearly every stream in Yosemite, including populated locales such as Tenaya Lake, Cathedral Lake, Vernal Falls, Tuolumne River, etc... and have been doing so for years. That ranger is doing the public a great disservice by spreading lies and her ignorance to others.

She has no clue where she got sick from. But I bet you if the good rangers of Yosemite practiced better hygiene and washed hands more often especially after taking a shit in the woods before brushing their teeth they'd get sick far less often.

It might also interest her to know that every camper in Tuolume Meadows campground plus all the lodges up there and the ranger station use unfiltered water from the Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River. Does she hook her filter up to the faucet too?

You have more backcountry experience than this apparent ranger. Ten minute lecture went the wrong way.
User Avatar
mrchad9

 
Posts: 4162
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:01 am
Location: San Ramon, California, United States
Thanked: 1196 times in 809 posts

Re: water filters

Postby mtneering » Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:08 am

Mr Chad, that's great!!!
User Avatar
mtneering

 
Posts: 246
Joined: Mon Jun 19, 2006 2:47 am
Location: San Diego, California, United States
Thanked: 2 times in 1 post

Re: water filters

Postby WyomingSummits » Sun Feb 17, 2013 2:45 pm

I filter all water....it's too easy with the new UV filters. 40 seconds to purify 32oz with no pumping or excessive squeezing. runs off AA batteries. Much easier than having the runs for 3 weeks.
User Avatar
WyomingSummits

 
Posts: 391
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:03 am
Location: Wyoming, United States
Thanked: 61 times in 43 posts

Re: water filters

Postby Bob Burd » Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:05 pm

What Chad said.
User Avatar
Bob Burd
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 4098
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2001 10:42 pm
Location: San Jose, California, United States
Thanked: 458 times in 237 posts

Re: water filters

Postby boyblue » Sun Feb 17, 2013 5:05 pm

I've had 40 years of trips as well and have never filtered or treated water. I only got sick once after a hike up Clouds Rest. Possibly from drinking from the Merced in LYV, but who knows?

I was cleaning out our shed and found a small unopened bottle of iodine tablets that I bought as a noob in 1975 or so. I carried it for a few years as part of a small emergency kit (fire starters, snake bite kit, inflatable rubber raft, etc.), but never felt compelled to use it.

Psst... I was just kidding about the raft. :D
User Avatar
boyblue

 
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Feb 15, 2003 9:30 am
Location: Newark, California, United States
Thanked: 71 times in 44 posts

Re: water filters

Postby asmrz » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:02 pm

This is a very old debate. About 40 years old. It might be getting more important these days. But whether you are on one side of the issue or another, here is just one note (from me):

Some people will never need to filter or treat anything in the Sierra and will be fine.

But if you ever get Giardia, trust me, you will never go anywhere again without a filter or some kind of water treatment stuff.

I roamed Sierra from the early 70s to early 90s, never did a thing to a water, anywhere.

The first time I cought the bug, I was told it was just a fluke. I lost about 10 pounds after drinking a bit of water from snow on Dana Plateau. The second time, I drank a little from a trickle after climbing the north ridge of Teewinot in the Tetons. Another horrific experience, pounds lost, that horrible Flagil etc.

I finally learned. Now I carry a small plastic bottle with 2% tincture of iodine and use 3-4 drops in a quart of water. Never had a problem since. I don't use filters because if I go to a glaciated terrain, most filters clog up and stop functioning.

So the story is, if you never get Giardia, you will not need anything. After you get it the first time, you will look into this (I guarantee it).
Last edited by asmrz on Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User Avatar
asmrz

 
Posts: 924
Joined: Mon Sep 16, 2002 7:52 am
Location: Idyllwild, San Jacinto Mountains, California, United States
Thanked: 146 times in 99 posts

Re: water filters

Postby artrock23 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:04 pm

I too must agree with Mrchad. Having began my Sierra backpacking career in the mid-70s, filters were unheard of. Sometimes iodine tabs were brought. The general rule of thumb I learned was if the water is clear and moving, and there's nothing inimical entering it upstream, it's generally safe to drink. I've never used a filter. Since most of my trips take me above 10Kft, i'll carry enough safe water in my reservoir to get me past lower elevations (more populated with people and animals), then enjoy the clear/cold mountain water higher up.

Even here in the local SoCal mountains... same thing. I've known people who've refused to drink spring water gushing directly out of the mountain, because they didn't have a filter to treat it first. Fools! As the old adage states "In the presence of water, the fool goes thirsty."
User Avatar
artrock23

 
Posts: 121
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:26 pm
Location: Laguna Beach, California, United States
Thanked: 155 times in 84 posts

Re: water filters

Postby mrchad9 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:20 pm

Alois, but how can you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that those were the sources of your infection? When spending time away from civilization contaminants can come from all sorts of activities, not just drinking water. It's just the easiest to blame. I just haven't seen a single study that shows an unacceptable level of pathogens in any water anywhere in the Sierra, much less the backcountry.

For me the benefits far outweigh the risks (which likely are not even there). Since ditching my filter I save a lot of weight (half pound for the filter and 2-3 pounds because I don't carry water either) and I stay much better hydrated too since it is no effort to prepare it!
User Avatar
mrchad9

 
Posts: 4162
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:01 am
Location: San Ramon, California, United States
Thanked: 1196 times in 809 posts

Re: water filters

Postby asmrz » Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:56 pm

Chad, my argument is that it does not matter if your severe gastrointestinal illness was Ghiardia or not (I went to a doctor, who said so). Whatever water bourne particles couse the illness is totally secondary to prevention of it.

I spent on the average 80-100 days a year ( I keep notes) in the backcountry over my 40 plus years of climbing, hiking, skiing and expeditions. I never got severly sick at home, requiring medical attention, not once in 45 years. Yet, in the backcountry, twice I cought whatever (in my case Giardhia) that debilitated me to the point, that even though I'm a stubborn bastard, I saw the light.

To each his own. Again, if you never get Ghiardia, you don't ever need to do anything to you water, anywhere.
User Avatar
asmrz

 
Posts: 924
Joined: Mon Sep 16, 2002 7:52 am
Location: Idyllwild, San Jacinto Mountains, California, United States
Thanked: 146 times in 99 posts

Re: water filters

Postby WyomingSummits » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:09 pm

mrchad9 wrote:Alois, but how can you know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that those were the sources of your infection? When spending time away from civilization contaminants can come from all sorts of activities, not just drinking water. It's just the easiest to blame. I just haven't seen a single study that shows an unacceptable level of pathogens in any water anywhere in the Sierra, much less the backcountry.

For me the benefits far outweigh the risks (which likely are not even there). Since ditching my filter I save a lot of weight (half pound for the filter and 2-3 pounds because I don't carry water either) and I stay much better hydrated too since it is no effort to prepare it!


A UV purifier is 3" long, weighs a couple of ounces, and purifies 32oz of water in 40 seconds......why risk it? They only cost $80 and you can purify thousands of ounces of water before you have to simply change the batteries! Gets rid of 99% of all virus's, bacteria, and cysts. Why NOT carry it? In 80 seconds I can fill my camelback with absolutely pure water.
User Avatar
WyomingSummits

 
Posts: 391
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:03 am
Location: Wyoming, United States
Thanked: 61 times in 43 posts

Re: water filters

Postby mrchad9 » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:33 pm

Why not carry a firearm? I don't want to risk getting raped by a band of hillbillies either and the odds are probably just as good!
User Avatar
mrchad9

 
Posts: 4162
Joined: Thu Jul 02, 2009 12:01 am
Location: San Ramon, California, United States
Thanked: 1196 times in 809 posts

The following user would like to thank mrchad9 for this post
LungFruit

Re: water filters

Postby fedak » Sun Feb 17, 2013 8:58 pm

I've been drinking unfiltered water from High Sierra water sources for ~20 years w/o issue. (And spring sourced water from everywhere else in CA)
(I do carry tablets and will use them as a judgement call if I am in a known grazing watershed or near human activity)

I'm sure the risk is there but, IMHO, the "official" stance on this is horribly alarmist. (Probably necessitated via our wonderfully litigious society)

There was a study at one point that found that there was less Giardia per volume of water in the top foot of high altitude lakes than there was in the SF tap water (The UV at that elevation apparently kills the stuff)

And there have been numerous surveys of the PCT hikers that found that most of them at least on occasion will pull from unfiltered sources.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
http://www.fedak.net/backcountry.html
User Avatar
fedak

 
Posts: 596
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2003 5:28 pm
Location: Stateline, Nevada, United States
Thanked: 73 times in 61 posts

The following user would like to thank fedak for this post
JackYoung

Next

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.