Drinking water out of San G area stream

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

Drinking water out of San G area stream

Postby drndr » Tue Aug 27, 2019 8:11 am

Hiked San Gorgonio last weekend. Southfork, up Dollar and down Dry Lake. The creek (South fork of the Santa Ana) was flowing fast back towards the bottom and I wanted to scoop it up in a bottle and drink it. So cold and refreshing. My group started to debate the safety of this. I know generally the official rule is to filter everything but I was wondering has anyone on here gotten sick or know someone who has gotten sick from drinking from creeks with fast moving water bouncing off rocks, high upstream? And if you're a math/statistics person, put a number on the amount of people who get sick. And I don't care if you're just guessing.

Personally I know of no one who has. And I know the answer is usually it only takes one time to get the bug and you'll have wished you always filtered.

D
"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time"
drndr
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 11:10 am
Location: Riverside

Re: Drinking water out of San G area stream

Postby zippetydude » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:17 pm

Hi Dan. I have been drinking the water out of streams without filtering for about 40 years. This time period encompasses well over a thousand trips, perhaps as many as two thousand over such a long time span, and I have never gotten sick. There was a study done in 2003 by U C Davis where they sampled stream water from some 100 sites across the Sierra Nevada. They found back country streams to be surprisingly clean, and if I recall correctly found no examples at all of infectious levels of Giardia back in the high country areas.

By the way, I have heard that the main outbreak of Giardia that started the whole filtering thing was traced back to a mountain resort where the cook used poor hygiene and accidentally made a bunch of people sick. People mistakenly thought it was the drinking water from a nearby stream, but it was later determined that it was the food source that caused the outbreak. However, companies jumped on the production of filters, and fear is a great salesman, so everyone who hikes immediately began filtering. Well, everyone except me. I got a filter bottle at the time, tried it a couple of times and found it was a mess, so I just took out the filter and kept using it. And didn't get sick.

Getting Giardia isn't necessarily all that bad. I think many of the horror stories of terrible vomiting and such that we hear are from food poisoning and not Giardia. My doctor recently mentioned that he lost 15 pounds and got to go off his blood pressure medication. I asked how he was able to lose the weight. He said, "Well, I went to Chile and got a stomach bug while I was there. I had it for a couple of weeks, and when it was gone, I had lost a bunch of weight and it stayed off. I didn't have any vomiting or even nausea, just had to go to the bathroom all the time. I had to drink a lot to stay hydrated, but it was the easiest 15 pounds I've ever lost."

I'm considering importing a bottle of water from Chile. I need to lose a few pounds too!

z
User avatar
zippetydude
 
Posts: 2692
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 5:40 am

Re: Drinking water out of San G area stream

Postby Ed » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:41 pm

zippetydude wrote:I'm considering importing a bottle of water from Chile. I need to lose a few pounds too!


My lowest weight was when I lived in West Africa for two years. Sick about 15% of the time, but overall healthier than before or since. Wish I could repeat the experience.

My impression, like Zip's, is that scientific studies have pretty much debunked the giardia scare. That if a backpacker gets giardia or other intestinal problems, the cause is likely to be poor personal hygiene, not water taken from a stream or lake. Probably more reason to worry about food prepared in a restaurant kitchen.
Ed
 
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:04 pm
Location: San Diego Area

Re: Drinking water out of San G area stream

Postby bretpct » Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:14 am

When I hiked the PCT, my rule was always asking if it was clear, cold, and moving, and were there no campgrounds above it? If the answer was yes to all those I drank it.

If it was a spring coming straight out of the side of mountain, I drank it.

In general, if I was over 10,000 ft, I drank it.

If it was raining, or rained the day or two before, I would filter.

I never got sick. But I think that one's immune system health is very important. Do you get sick a lot? I get a cold maybe once every three years; don't know why, not bragging, but I seem to have a robust immune system.

-B
bretpct
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:40 pm

Re: Drinking water out of San G area stream

Postby drndr » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:35 am

Alright, you guys all have way more experience than me. And those are good numbers.

I think I have always followed bretpct guidelines but just haven't been out enough to do it a lot.

So Zip, you'd scoop and drink out of the fast moving stream of the south fork santa ana, would you scoop and drink out of a full dollar or dry lake? Both have a lot of water right now.

Dan

P.S. I have weighed about the same weight for 25 years give or take 3-5 lbs. A few years ago I also had a stomach cramp, bug, pain or something that lasted a couple months. Really watched what I could eat and consumed about 75% of my regular calories. Lost 10 lbs and felt great. Never even thought I had 10lbs to lose. Put the 10 back on over about 5 years and now can't even imagine getting back down to that. I will also sign up for some of that Chilean water.
"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time"
drndr
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 11:10 am
Location: Riverside

Re: Drinking water out of San G area stream

Postby Ed » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:57 am

We used to joke about bottled water in Mexico. That it was a waste of money, because the bottles were filled by a backroom faucet.

bretpct's rules seem sensible. If I was suspicious of any water in the San Gorgonio area, it would be water flowing from South Fork Meadows. Perhaps I was being over-cavalier. But I was so often sick in Third World countries when I was younger that I tend to be dismissive of problems in the states. I had one attack on Pichincha, a 15,700' peak outside of Quito, Ecuador. Finally sat down on a rock, and said 'no more'. We were on a narrow rocky ridge, with about 15 yards of visibility. My wife, who was feeling fine, disappeared into the mist. Popped down about 20 minutes later and said the summit was close, so I staggered up the rest of the way. Had another attack the first day on Ixtaccihuatl in Mexico, on the hike up to the hut. Fortunately I felt fine the next day.
Ed
 
Posts: 639
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 2:04 pm
Location: San Diego Area

Re: Drinking water out of San G area stream

Postby zippetydude » Wed Aug 28, 2019 2:27 pm

drndr wrote:
So Zip, you'd scoop and drink out of the fast moving stream of the south fork santa ana, would you scoop and drink out of a full dollar or dry lake? Both have a lot of water right now.


Yes, quite freely if I did not know where a fresh spring or stream was to be found. Here's why. About 10 years ago I was doing a trail run in Yosemite. The streams are so plentiful there that I had neglected to fill up my water bottles when I should have and found myself a few miles past the previous stream, 10 miles from my destination, and no stream on the map for the next 6 or 7 miles. So, as I passed one of the little round lakes that dot Yosemite, one with totally still water and green algae on the bottom but clear water above it, I thought, "Oh well, it's Giardia for me but I'm not turning around and I'm not going to risk dehydration this far into a run (at that point probably somewhere around 15 miles) at high altitude. So I filled up my bottles, drank deeply, ate an energy gel, drank some more, and then resumed my run.

And then the unthinkable happened...absolutely nothing. I didn't throw up, I didn't get the runs (no pun intended), shoot, I didn't even burp.

Long story short, I would fill up at the hidden springs down in the ravine that leads up to Dry Lake, or at Lodgepole, or add snow to my water if it was available, before drinking from Dry Lake. But if there were none, I would do so without hesitation. Dollar Lake I often do fill up because it seems plenty clear and clean to me and the stream that feeds it is a little walk over to the right. I could fill up from that, but why bother?

By the way, my father in law once told me that he had been out in the mountains somewhere, I don't recall exactly where, but he drank from a stream and then started exploring along a path that went upstream right beside the water. About 50 yards upstream he came across the body of a dead sheep, decomposing in the water. He never got sick either. I think we're being sold a bunch of unnecessary gear. People from the birth of man up until just a few years ago had only had natural water sources. Our bodies, especially our gut, is designed to make quick work of most bacteria and parasites that would try to enter through that route. My two cents!

z
User avatar
zippetydude
 
Posts: 2692
Joined: Tue May 09, 2006 5:40 am

Re: Drinking water out of San G area stream

Postby drndr » Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:32 pm

I like your thinking! I will hold none of you responsible I promise. The next time I need water on the trail I'm dipping into a spring. Maybe it'll keep me from packing 4 ltrs of water.!!
"Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time"
drndr
 
Posts: 202
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 11:10 am
Location: Riverside


Return to Outdoors-Related Topics

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests