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Poll: How did you treat your water?

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  1. #1
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Default Poll on FIltering and Illness

    This poll is for hikers with 1000+ trip miles

  2. #2
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    I've never filtered and have never been sick.

  3. #3
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickboudrie
    This poll is for hikers with 1000+ trip miles
    Was this supposed to be a poll?
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    NO SNIVELING

  4. #4
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock
    Was this supposed to be a poll?

    Yes, Rock. For some reason I am easlity confused when it comes to posting a poll. I think it should show up now.

  5. #5
    trash, hiker the goat's Avatar
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    god bless the people at pur.

  6. #6
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    So is this for people with over 1000 miles hiking, or a single trip of at leat 1000 miles. I assume the later.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  7. #7
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock
    So is this for people with over 1000 miles hiking, or a single trip of at leat 1000 miles. I assume the later.
    I'll go back and clarify. I just want to make sure that those answering are hikers with a bunch of time int he backcountry. Anyone can get lucky on thier first weekend out ;-).

    Oops. Its too late for me to edit post #1. I'd like to see anyone who has 1000 AT miles under thier belt (or 100 nights camping anywhere similar) participate.
    Last edited by rickb; 10-24-2005 at 08:58.

  8. #8
    Addicted Hiker and Donating Member Hammock Hanger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by L. Wolf
    I've never filtered and have never been sick.
    I am right there with LW. NO filter, no sickness. (Even when drinking some of the tea waters in north FL.)
    Hammock Hanger -- Life is my journey and I'm surely not rushing to the "summit"...:D

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  9. #9

    Default Used to take my chances, but not anymore...

    I boiled water (sometimes) on the AT, but often took my chances when the water was coming right out of the ground. I got sick several times. One of my hiking partners got giardia. Another got an unidentified intestinal illness that hung on for months after he completed his hike.

    After hiking the AT, I worked as a water microbiologist in a state laboratory, testing drinking water and swimming water samples. One thing I learned, from first hand experience, is that even clean-looking waters in "pristine" areas of Vermont are routinely loaded with fecal bacteria. True, not all fecal bacteria cause disease, but the presence of coliforms or E. coli means that pathogens may be present.

    I don't know about you, but the thought of drinking (untreated) water contaminated with the feces of warm blooded animals turns my stomach.

    I'm currently section hiking the CDT in Montana/Idaho. You'd think the Rockies would be a mecca for pristine water. Unfortunately, cows and horses foul the water even at the highest points on the divide in many, many places. What would be nice clean mountain streams unfortunately suffer from unsightly algae blooms. God knows what the bacteria content is in some of these water sources.

    And here's the tough part. You have to take water from sources located BELOW dozens of cowpies on a number of occasions, because there's simply no other choice.

    Do I treat this water every time? You'd better believe it. One thing not commonly known about cattle: one out of every 24, on average, is infested with E. coli 0157:H7. That's the strain of E. coli that can kill you, via something called HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome).

    Bon appetit!

  10. #10

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    THIS IS A COMPLETELY UNSCIENTIFIC POLL. PLEASE DO NOT BASE YOUR HEALTH DECISIONS ON THE RESULTS OF THIS POLL.

    Simply stating your personal experiences is fine, but to place percentages unscientifically on what is an important health issue for hikers is irresponsible IMO. The numbers generated are in no way accurate and will be biased.

    In the ongoing discussions on water quality here at WB, to date about the best article about trail water quality was linked by Sgt. Rock. The paper was a study of water quality in the West. I forget exactly where.

  11. #11
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Good point about the poll being unscientific, Alligator. If I could add your bold type warning to the initial question and/or the first post in this thread I would do so. You are 100% right.

    An individual's choice on water treatment should not be driven by unscientific polls (and this one is really unscientific)

    That said, you realize that the article you reference about water quality out West (the Sierras) basically says "drink up and don't worry" but "wash you hands", right? Anyway, here it is again:

    http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/Giardia.htm
    Last edited by rickb; 10-24-2005 at 10:20.

  12. #12
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    I've used all methods of filtering/purifying but on my thru I took only AquaMira with me. When I was at higher elevations and didn't observe much large wildlife I often just scooped and drank directly from the running streams. Otherwise it was just AquaMira, or boiling if it was water gathered just for my dinner meal.

    I did not have a water related health issue during my thru ...however I did end up doing the entire hike (found out afterwards) with serious kidney stone disease. Had to have 2 surgeries when I got home.

    All the water in the world (filtered or non-filtered) would have helped me with that one.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  13. #13
    Addicted Hiker and Donating Member Hammock Hanger's Avatar
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    I discussed this once with my doctor who thought treating was a good idea and could not tell me why I haven't gotten sick other then that maybe I have built up some immunities and/or have been lucky.

    I never tell people they should or they shouldn't treat their water. It is a gamble and each person has to take care of themself. When asked though I will openly say, not treating has worked for me thus far and until I get sick it is the way I will go.
    Hammock Hanger -- Life is my journey and I'm surely not rushing to the "summit"...:D

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  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rickboudrie
    ...
    That said, you realize that the article you reference about water quality out West (the Sierras) basically says "drink up and don't worry" but "wash you hands", right? Anyway, here it is again:

    http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/Giardia.htm
    Thanks, I thought that link was in the Articles section, but didn't see it. Anyway, that particular article covers research in the Sierras. Which translates to it is applicable only in the Sierras and does not transfer to the AT. I see that the intended sample population for this poll doesn't subset to just AT hikers, but a lot of WB readers are focused on the AT. If anyone has any scientific AT water quality studies, please post.

    But, since you asked, the data presented in that article is convincing that the risk of illness from drinking water sources in the Sierras is extremely low. I personally feel that handwashing is more important than filtering in preventing intestinal disorders. I base my opinion solely on general readings and anecdotal evidence. Without any good data on water quality for the AT (my primary hiking area) I will continue to treat my water as I have always done in the past and practice good hand cleaning. I have never had an intenstinal disorder in any period after hiking. If I were forced to choose, I would take the soap and hand sanitizer.

  15. #15

    Default Not worth the risk when you finally get sick...

    IMO, Those who don't filter/treat have probably never been sick. But again - a personal decision best left up to each hiker.

    As a river guide, I had a friend who fought Giardisis (from Giardia) for over a year, from a tiny amount of water accidentally splashed into his mouth during a routine trip. It's nasty.

    Plus, a pipe sticking out of the ground does not ensure safe water! Some old pipes are lead and leach other heavy metals, not to mention microbes that can cause illness. Some inconsiderate folks use the toilet near water sources, or wash out personal items near/around it including blisters, soak their feet, cuts, wash their bodies, rinse out 'environmentally friendly" ladies products - yuck! No guarantee a lightly running spring has "flushed" this stuff away.

    I will never opt for anything but a filter, the taste was so consistent that I found myself filtering hotel water when in town on my hike last year that tasted nasty -flouride and chlorine in it.....this is my "creature comfort":

    MSR MiniWorks® EX Microfilter

    The MiniWorks EX is the best-selling filter on the market, delivering long-lasting, fully field-maintainable water filtration. Its durable ceramic element ensures protection, pumps water for years, and can be cleaned repeatedly for full recovery, with no tools required for complete disassembly. The MiniWorks is also lightweight, compact, and, thanks to its innovative AirSpring Accumulator™, capable of pumping one liter of water per minute.
    • Long-lasting
      Durable ceramic element ensures protection and will pump water for years.
    • Field-maintainable
      Can be cleaned repeatedly for full filter recovery; no tools required for complete disassembly.
    • Fast Flow
      AirSpring Accumulator increases filtration speed; up to 1 liter/minute.
    • Effective Protection
      Removes bacteria, protozoa (including crypto and giardia), and particulate.
    • Better-tasting Water
      Carbon core removes unpleasant tastes and odors caused by chemicals, such as iodine, chlorine, and pesticides.
    Weight: 16oz/456g
    Dimensions:7.5 x 2.75 in./19 x 7 cm
    Cartridge Life: Up to 2,000 liters, depending on water conditions
    Includes: Stuff sack, hose float, scrub pad, and instructions




    You could probably go lighter, but I prefer the safety of the larger/thicker porcelain filter inside, it's never let me down! It only allows water molecules through, I like that security.
    Last edited by Smile; 10-24-2005 at 12:10.
    ad astra per aspera

  16. #16

    Default

    Point is: most people in the world drink untreated water and do not get sick from it. In Nepal, i too now drink the water and don't get sick although most newcomers to Nepal probably would like i did my 1st time.
    Does this mean that i've built up an immunity to Giardia? I believe so.
    somebody said "God bless the folks at PUR" why? cause they learned how to make money from your fears? drink the water, it'll keep you alive, not kill you

  17. #17
    Addicted Hiker and Donating Member Hammock Hanger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smile
    Some inconsiderate folks use the toilet near water sources, or wash out personal items near/around it including blisters, soak their feet, cuts, wash their bodies, rinse out 'environmentally friendly" ladies products - yuck! No guarantee a lightly running spring has "flushed" this stuff away.

    .
    Smile: Thanks for those lovely pictures that will be in my head next time I dip into that beautiful mountain stream for a sweet cup of water... Sue
    Hammock Hanger -- Life is my journey and I'm surely not rushing to the "summit"...:D

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  18. #18
    Section Hiker 500 miles smokymtnsteve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammock Hanger
    not treating has worked for me thus far and until I get sick it is the way I will go.
    famous last words
    "I'd rather kill a man than a snake. Not because I love snakes or hate men. It is a question, rather, of proportion." Edward Abbey

  19. #19
    Addicted Hiker and Donating Member Hammock Hanger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smokymtnsteve
    famous last words

    Hammock Hanger -- Life is my journey and I'm surely not rushing to the "summit"...:D

    http://www.gcast.com/u/hammockhanger/main

  20. #20
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    I have to admit that there is one aspect of filter that worries me.

    If I was concerned about getting stung by a wasp (which could hurt some), I sure as heck wouldn't go about protectingy myself by catching everyone that came near me, until I had hundreds and thousands of the live insects collected in a "special place" in my backpack.

    Because if they ever escaped together, that would really hurt.

    Seems to me that concentrating crypto, giardia, e-coli and other bugs in an old filter is doing much the same thing.
    Last edited by rickb; 10-24-2005 at 19:54.

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