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- Subject: [pct-l] Filters
- From: "David B. Stockton" <email@example.com>
- Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1999 09:30:15 -0400
I recently did a 122 mile one-week trip in the Adirondacks using a Katadyn
mini in a primarily lakish region. The filtering was a LOT of work.
Because of drought conditions, most of the small, reasonably safe streams
were dry (this is why I brought the filter). Sometimes I was a little
dehydrated because I didn't want to stop and filter.
The worst water I had was from the taps of a campground I passed through;
after a few hours I was nauseous (no diarrhea and did not vomit), possibly
because of mineral/metal deposits from the pipes. I did not filter it.
The second worst water I had was from a muddy lake at least a foot low
because of the drought, although it was far better than the campground
The best water (smoothness, taste) I had was from a very small stream that
happened to be running and that I did not treat.
A negligible-weight nylon water bag that I bought from Campmor for a few
bucks was, as I have found in the past, invaluable because it lets one
filter in comfort, away from the stream/lake, and lets one control very
precisely where the filter intake is placed.
Just as in scuba, where a longer last decompression stop always made me
feel better in the long run no matter what the books/charts said, boiling
one's dinner water a little longer than necessary, whether filtered or not,
is probably a good idea.
I doubt that excessive attempts to have sanitary technique are of any use.
There is no question that a hiker will ingest contaminated water; the
goal, in my opinion, is to minimize the amount so that one's system can
handle it. Jardine's technique of taking extreme measures to bypass
questionable water is probably more effective than any other method of
treating water; it has the disadvantage of requiring one to carry more
water farther. But when you couple that with the "waterless camping"
notion (eating, or at least cooking, where there is water, then continuing
on with just drinking water), and of acclimatizing one's digestive tract,
it is easy to see how not treating one's water could be just as or more
effective than treating it.
I know from his book that Jardine and his wife in '94 did not treat water
and were not ill. I have also heard from others that have not treated and
been in hospital with giardiasis.
I suspect that a combination of methods is best; that one should use as
light a filter as possible and try to find sources that don't require it
and drink a lot when one does, boil one's water a little longer to make
meals, view manmade sources with suspicion, and expect to have gastro
problems and carry on anyway.
Anybody interested in surveying the successful '99 through-hikers as to
filter use, sickness, etc? I would like to help, but don't think that I
could take full responsibility for it.
David B. Stockton
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