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  1. #1

    Default Seeking hikers who do not treat their water

    Greetings all;

    As an ongoing study of the effects of Giardia on hikers, I am seeking people who usually do not treat their backcountry water. If you rarely or never treat your water while recreating, Id love to hear about your experiences. Some respondents have listed the water sources they have drank from unscathed, how much untreated water they have drank since when, and what changed their minds about treating their water. Whatever your experiences, the more specific the detail, the better.

    Conversely, for those that feel all water requires treatment, I would love to hear from you as well. Some respondents have told horror stories of gastrointestinal illnesses, how Giardia was not a problem in the good old days, and how they will continue to treat their water no matter what they hear to the contrary.

    A movement gaining momentum calls for not treating water and simply paying closer attention to personal hygiene. This is shown in the below article, which is now being greatly expanded and updated. I hope to include your responses (only with permission) in this work:

    http://erikschlimmer.com/pdf/GiardiaMyth-Buster.pdf

    If you have experiences to share, please send a note to the address below.

    Thank you.

    Erik Schlimmer

    info@erikschlimmer.com

  2. #2

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    I sometimes carry Potable Aqua or Polar Pure but seldom if ever treat. Places I would be beaver streams and beaver ponds. Haven't got sick once. (must be the purple berries)

  3. #3
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    i've never treated or fitered water in over 16,000 miles of AT hiking. never been sick. end of story

  4. #4
    Registered User Yukon's Avatar
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    I always filter, never know what could be floating down the stream. I'll continue to do it for piece of mind.

  5. #5
    Registered User Doctari's Avatar
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    I don't filter or treat.
    I have not gotten sick.
    I carry PA Plus, but havn't taken it out of the pack in 2 years. In fact, I'm so unlikely to treat, I took the nutralizer out of the pack, & I'm not dead sure the treatment part is actually still in my pack right now.
    Curse you Perry the Platypus!

  6. #6
    Springer to Elk Park, NC/Andover to Katahdin
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    Don't treat or filter. Carry homemade gravity filter in pack but never use it other than to loan it out. Never been sick.
    I am not young enough to know everything.

  7. #7
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    I treat my water but believe that Lone Wolf and Sly are correct. I tend to be the canary in the coal mine and just don't want to take the "chance". Prob unjustified fear.
    Fear ridges that are depicted as flat lines on a profile map.

  8. #8

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    I rarely treat anymore. When I'm out west, I'm prone to treat or filter if I really need the water, and it looks like cattle or partiers have been near the watering hole.

    I do carry some Aqua Mira, and will use it on questionable sources. When I was out east, I could usually find water and camel enough to avoid treating. I treated once while I was in the Catskills, and that was solely to find out what Aqua Mira tasted like.

    I've gotten the ****s once, that was when I get dehydrated hunting, to the point of wooziness, and drank out of a cattle pond. I had the runs for about 2 days.

  9. #9
    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    sometimes i filter sometimes i dont. depends on where i'm at. i typically filter along the AT (although some portions I may not), but often do not filter on other trails. the AT has a higher probability of its streams containing disease than do a lot of the other trails i hike.

    i have used iodine before as well.
    The only thing better than mountains, is mountains where you haven't been.

    amongnature.blogspot.com

  10. #10
    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    forgot to add that ive never been sick.
    The only thing better than mountains, is mountains where you haven't been.

    amongnature.blogspot.com

  11. #11
    Registered User Plodderman's Avatar
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    Most times I do and sometimes I don't. I have never been sick but it would sure ruin a trip. The more populated the tail becomes and the closer houses get the the trail the more I would treat.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erik Schlimmer View Post
    Greetings all;

    As an ongoing study of the effects of Giardia on hikers, I am seeking people who usually do not treat their backcountry water. If you rarely or never treat your water while recreating, Id love to hear about your experiences. Some respondents have listed the water sources they have drank from unscathed, how much untreated water they have drank since when, and what changed their minds about treating their water. Whatever your experiences, the more specific the detail, the better.

    Conversely, for those that feel all water requires treatment, I would love to hear from you as well. Some respondents have told horror stories of gastrointestinal illnesses, how Giardia was not a problem in the good old days, and how they will continue to treat their water no matter what they hear to the contrary.

    A movement gaining momentum calls for not treating water and simply paying closer attention to personal hygiene. This is shown in the below article, which is now being greatly expanded and updated. I hope to include your responses (only with permission) in this work:

    http://erikschlimmer.com/pdf/GiardiaMyth-Buster.pdf

    If you have experiences to share, please send a note to the address below.

    Thank you.

    Erik Schlimmer

    info@erikschlimmer.com
    I rarely treat my water in the continental US. When I do treat it I use Aqua Mira. On the PCT this yr. I used less than 1/2 of each one of the bottles. I carry it just as a back-up if I have to take water from questionable sources. I have never been medically diagnosed as having contracted a water born pathogen. And, unless one is medically tested positive for a pathogen one can not definitively state what one has. And, like U mention in your article, too often, I hear hikers state, "I must have Giardia". When I ask, "have U been medically diagnosed with Giardia"? Their answer is often, "no". In Hawaii, where I live and often hike, I treat my water more often. There, we have Leptosporosis which often comes from feral pigs. IMO, Leptosporosis is one of the more serious pathogens/diseases that can be encountered on the trail in the US. When I go to Patagonia this yr. to hike I will probably treat my water more often than here in the US.

    I agree that we R led to believe that backwoods water sources in the US R more contaminated than they generally R. But, the extent and likely hood of encountering contaminated water varies. I also agree that with experience and knowledge one can minimize the risk of contracting a water born disease while on the trail(your well written article makes mention of this). The problem is that not everyone who goes into the woods and drinks the water has the same base of experience and knowledge. That's one of the reasons why many agencies make blanketing statements like, "all backcountry water sources should be treated". Great article Erik!

  13. #13
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    I rarely treat my water. This photo says it all.

    Like many experienced hikers, I believe sanitation is more important than water treatment. REI, of all places, is posting this train out thought on their website, too:

    From http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/hygiene+sanitation.html



    "A bigger concern, Backer says, is what medical types such as him call "fecal-oral transmission." Ew, gross. But it happens. Happens a lot, in factand research indicates it causes many more cases of intestinal distress than does ingesting Giardia."
    Waterborne pathogens such as Giardia are not as widespread in backcountry water sources as once believed. A number of researchers and medical experts believe that much water in the wilderness (particularly in remote, high alpine settings) is drinkable without treatment.

    Additionally:

    Careful attention to personal hygiene can help prevent the spread of infection. Thomas R. Welch in a 2004 editorial in the journal Wilderness Medicine expressed the view that "stopping hand-to-mounth spread is the key to preventing gastrointestinal infection" and that routine universal treatment of water should be de-emphasized.
    Paul "Mags" Magnanti
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    The true harvest of my life is intangible...a little stardust caught,a portion of the rainbow I have clutched -Thoreau

  14. #14
    Registered User KG4FAM's Avatar
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    If I can see it coming out of the ground I don't filter it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    ILike many experienced hikers, I believe sanitation is more important than water treatment.
    I have read that, and would like to believe it. But the one time I got sick from hiking, I was entirely on my own, so there was no sharing of food whatsoever.

    So to respond to the OP: in approx. 35 years of hiking, no water treatment or illness for the first 15 years. Since that one bad incident (in 1989) I've been carrying and using filters, and haven't gotten sick from hiking.

  16. #16
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by _terrapin_ View Post
    I have read that, and would like to believe it. But the one time I got sick from hiking, I was entirely on my own, so there was no sharing of food whatsoever.

    Yes, but many GI illnesses often incubate BEFORE you head out on the trail. Throw in a possibly weakened immune system from a body not used to exercise and you get the trekker trots.

    I don't know if that is the cause for you, but my experience tells me it is rarely the water. People with many initials behind their name seems to back this up, too.


    No offense to you Terrapin, but I am going to believe the MD before I go by anecdotal evidence. Bad water CAN cause GI illnesses..it is just much rarer than marketing would have you believe.
    Paul "Mags" Magnanti
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    The true harvest of my life is intangible...a little stardust caught,a portion of the rainbow I have clutched -Thoreau

  17. #17
    jersey joe jersey joe's Avatar
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    I used a pur water filter on my thru hike until the smokies where I dropped my filter in the river and saw no point in pumping water if the clean end was already contaminated. I drank right from water sources the rest of the way and didn't have any problems.

  18. #18

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    32,000 miles of walking the AT. Never treated my water (never will).
    Warren Doyle PhD
    34,000-miler (and counting)
    warrendance@gmail.com
    www.warrendoyle.com

  19. #19
    Super Moderator Ender's Avatar
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    More and more I'm only treating water if it's from suspect sources. I try to keep good sanitation in the woods.
    Don't take anything I say seriously... I certainly don't.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    No offense to you Terrapin, but I am going to believe the MD before I go by anecdotal evidence. Bad water CAN cause GI illnesses..it is just much rarer than marketing would have you believe.
    No offense taken. No question, the "evidence" is meager. I'd only add that a defense against cooties in the water is only one reason for schlepping the filter. Two others: 1) getting usable water from murky/muddy sources, if need be, and 2) getting water from very shallow sources... if need be.

    I don't filter water for dinner or for tea, since it's going to be boiled anyway. And I don't filter water from true springs -- ie., where I can see the water emerging from the ground (or a pipe.)

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