lessons learned from a new hiker hopefully helps another

3:51 p.m. on October 5, 2012 (EDT)
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glad i learned these 2 lessons on closer to home smaller trails and hope can make someone else stop an think even tho its little things :) first one..I have learned always...always...take your water,a snack, and a map (at least the water and map but for me with low blood sugar the snack as well) if nothing else even when you think im just going on a small local trail that you know the way and so does who your with and we will be done in an hour.headed out on a suppose to be hour an half or so 3 to 4 miles in familiar territory..deciding to enjoy and not carry anything (even tho i knew better and had read on here) leaving daypack and even water in the van.ended up going in a circle trying to combine trails, having to find our way out adding not only a few miles, but some steeper climbs, small scrambling, and crossing the water an i thought as i got thirsty how vulnerable i felt with the water in van an no way to purify the water available and how that could become a bad situation quick.the day pack so close was useless.the 2nd lesson not so serious but worth noting i now see why test even your simple gear so you know how to use, put up, get to quick if it decides to start pouring rain (these were on 2 seperate hikes) im sure i looked a little comical during the downpour and the funny part was downpour lasted a whole 20 min. at least it  happened so i could learn from it :)

4:14 p.m. on October 5, 2012 (EDT)
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glad it didn't turn into a disaster...always take your ten essentials!

4:46 p.m. on October 5, 2012 (EDT)
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just realized i should have stated take the 10 essentials verses water and map.the 10 essentials were in my daypack so the lesson learned should be always take your daypack. I have never not taken my daypack but bieng with a friend (who "knows the woods" ) since im usually by myself gave me a false sense of security and felt more like we were going for a walk. Just was thinking i cant believe i didnt even have water on me or a way to drink all the water around me.

3:58 p.m. on October 6, 2012 (EDT)
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could have been worse. How are your overnite trip preparations coming? anything planned for an overnighter?

11:32 p.m. on October 6, 2012 (EDT)
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It amazes me how many people won't drink wild water, even when thirsty.  The chances of getting sick are about as good as winning the lottery.

12:49 p.m. on October 7, 2012 (EDT)
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JimD makes a good point about water.  It is always better to get home okay and drink the water.  It depends on where you spend your time though.  It is no big trick to get sick from water-bourne illness these days.  I have tried it and it is not fun.

A few halozone or iodine tablets can save a lot of aggravation.  My brother traveled across Africa for 7 months in a truck from London to Nairobi, Kenya.  Once in a while in Saharan Africa they got low on water, with temperatures frequently over 100 degrees and lots of wind.  They drank the water.  He got checked out upon returning to the US and had surprisingly few problems.  We are probably overly-sensitive now when it comes to water treatment in the backcountry.


4:55 p.m. on October 7, 2012 (EDT)
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I remember a few years back one of the trail associations tested water sources in the sierra. they came back with little or no contamination. I think everyone is a little paranoid when it comes to wild water sources. I filter mine just to be safe, but its good to know that in an emergency it's probably safe to drink.

9:31 a.m. on October 8, 2012 (EDT)
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I have drunk untreated water from a stream in a Cumberland Escarpment gorge without any negative results, and it is certainly better to drink untreated water when you are less than a day from help. Many places at higher elevation, whether in the west or in the Appalachians, the water is quite often likely safe. However, the closer you are to populated areas and agricultural land, the greater the risk of contamination becomes.

Even farmed land alone raises risk, as the potentially elevated levels of fertilizer in water sources can increase pathogen reproduction. Pesticides and other contaminants can be a concern as well. In this region, there are many old mines which can leach heavy metals and other toxins into streams.

If you are more than a day away from help, drinking untreated water of unknown quality becomes an exercise is balancing risk: potentially getting sick and making a bad situation worse, or hazarding dehydration. 

All of this stresses the importance of carrying the necessary essentials for each given outing, and doing your homework before hand so you know all the conditions of where you are going, including water quality. 

3:58 p.m. on October 8, 2012 (EDT)
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good to know on the drink the water if have to.2 day trip planned end of october. 12 mile day hike hopefully oct 20th.(altho i have done 9 miles here and there solo just thought it would be fun to do a 12 mile with a hiking group for a change since I am usually solo) and the best news is I purchased a better day pack yesterday and wow what a difference. back feels great and didnt even feel like i had a pack on for the 3 miles :)


4:02 p.m. on October 9, 2012 (EDT)
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Bottom line with water is:

(a) You need it to stay alive.

(b) you need to be well-hydrated to make good decisions so you stay alive.

(c) It probably won't kill you right away even if it is contaminated.

The chances of getting sick from drinking untreated water are substantially higher than those of winning the lottery (or was that just hyperbole?) but if it gets you home, you'll still be alive and close to medical treatment by the time it hits you.

A few cautions about the much-vaunted 'fresh mountain stream' or 'pristine glacier water'.

First, animals go to the stream to drink, and when they do, they often urinate or defecate. Sometimes they are sick and sometimes they die near the stream and rot. If you're downstream, those are the things you're drinking.

Second, even water treated with tablets or a UV system is not proof against the glacial silt that is found in a glacier lake or a stream flowing from it. That rock flour can cause unpleasant and long-lasting intestinal aggravation.

And when using water treatment tablets, remember that they can take up to four hours to start working, depending on water temperature. If you don't have that kind of time, you might as well drink the water in an untreated state.

5:08 p.m. on October 9, 2012 (EDT)
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 SOURCE: MSR Website:

"""Wonder if you really need to take a water filter or purifier on your next backcountry trip? Consider this:

Virtually all surface waters are contaminated with at least one of the three types of potentially disease-causing microorganisms: protozoa, bacteria, and viruses. A 1992 study found that 97% of U.S. rivers and lakes contain one or both of the protozoan parasites Giardia and cryptosporidia.

While it is true that you can drink directly from many water sources, it is critical to understand that each time you do, there is a chance of ingesting one of these bugs.

7:53 p.m. on October 16, 2012 (EDT)
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My local town water quality assay indicates it has a higher giardia cyst count than the overwhelming majority of high Sierra Nevada water sources.  As does many other "treated" civilized water sources.  Just saying.

In deed the Sierra water quality is surveyed on a ongoing basis, and in fact bugs are a insignificant issue for most locations.  Chemical contamination in water sources downstream from old mines is a bigger issue out here, yet no one seems to fuss over this.  Go figure. 

Personally I have been camping in So Cal and Sierras since the 1960s and have yet to resort to water filtering/treating, and have yet to get a bug.

You can go on line and check out such water quality surveys if so compelled.  I found it mostly reassuring.  One such site commented:  Water quality varies seasonally.  Early season water is the best, but will decline as populations of people and herd or equine stock penetrate the region.  They concluded only locations with fairly intensive human or stock presence pose a bug risk, provided one uses prudent water gathering techniques.


9:57 p.m. on October 20, 2012 (EDT)
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We all do risk/benefit analyses when we make choices like this. For some on this thread, it seems the analysis goes like this: "I probably won't catch anything bad, and if I do, I will be close enough to medical care that it won't matter." 

For others, the analysis runs like this: "It is so easy to treat water, and the equipment is so easy to carry, I may as well do it." 

I'm not saying the first camp is wrong. It all comes down to what risk you find acceptable. Personally, I'm in the second. A Hiker (my filter of choice for many years) is small enough and light enough that I see no reason not to carry and use it. I enjoy the activity -- it's kind of like Zen to me -- enough so that on the AT, I was given the trail name "Pump." LOL.

I also carry some Micropur chlorine dioxide tablets for a backup. Very lightweight. Just a few. Rarely use them.

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