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The Sierras have been dry the last three years. Recent July rains have helped the vegetation, but the streams and springs are drying up. On a day hike near Ebbett's Pass we had planned to get water from a major creek that is shown as a permanent stream on the USGS quad.
I usually carry a liter bottle of water, and often bring along a pump filter for nice cold mountain water. We got to the three forks of the major watershed and could see evidence of recent flow, but no water. My long time hiking companion and I brought our three large dogs. They routinely found water before we could. They were very helpful in locating water in dense willow stands, and in the major drainages. I found some wet mud with a lot of riparian vegetation and was about to start digging, when I heard lapping about 30 yards away around the corner. There was a trickle of surface water less than an inch deep. By digging out a trough and letting it clear, we had clean water that was about 45-50 degrees. It was delightful. Watching all of those survival shows has heightened my sense of where to find water, using the riparian veg as the main clues about where to look. The utility of having field experienced dogs around became very obvious. Something to think about this fall when it is going to get really dry.
Hunting in central Nevada in the fall I have often found snow to put in my water bottles and left them out in the sun to melt. There is often little water around except in deep dark drainages that are a long way away.