By Jess Hanson
Years ago I was hiking with a friend in the splendor of Oregon’s central mountains. Whenever we would draw water from a wild water source my friend would first filter the water through a commercial water filter, then chemically treat his drinking water with Purification Tablets. As if that wasn’t enough, he would then subject the whole thing to a five minute rolling boil. Apparently, when he was a teenager, he hiked California’s Sierra Nevada’s with a group of diehards; hiking, camping and exploring filled their veins. I marveled at his thoroughness and cast off a backhanded remark about him dying of thirst despite the existence of thousands of gallons of water at our disposal. He shot back in sarcastic defiance that he had, “suffered greatly at the hands of dirty water years before and refused to repeat that gut wrenching experience commonly known as Montezuma’s Revenge.”
Personally, I think all of his fooling around was meant to cause me to set up camp while he fiddled with his particulars. I drew my water using a top of the line water filter (by “First Need”) that removed everything from bacteria to viruses. I have learned over the years that viruses are smaller than Guardia and Protozoa so I always look for a filter that goes down to the virus level. One never knows what has happened up stream in regards to animal’s bathroom behaviors, so I always treat wild water with great caution.
The other critical aspect of treating water is the protection of drinking surfaces and personal hygiene. Clean hands and clean drinking surfaces protect against the recycling of germs. This brings to mind my desert survival training in Egypt’s Sahara Desert. Our crew stored water in forty gallon water bags which we all drew from. In the matter of days half our crew suffered from classic diarrhea due to water germ poisoning. The medics gave us remedial training on our personal hygiene practices. The following night a guard spotted wild dogs in our camp as they greedily licked the precious moisture found on the water bag spigots. There’s the culprit! Carry your water filters and be safe. You never know!
31 year Survival Expert
Survival Technologies, LLC
Turner, OR 97392