Category Archives: First aid, wilderness medicine, etc

Three Ridges Trip Report, Applachian Trail Virginia 22-24 June 2012

Just back from hiking the “Three Ridges”, Friday 22 June to Sunday 24 June 2012, per the description found in Hikingupward.com.

See all the photos at http://www.meetup.com/OCBackpackers/photos/9415752/

Backpacked this with our hiking group “Obsessive Compulsive Backpackers”, which has members from Richmond to Virginia Beach.

I drove up to Sherpa’s house in Williamsburg where we linked up with Mukta (Ashley). While we were waiting for Mukta, Sherpa and her husband laid out a totally fantastic European buffet complete with Caprice Salad, grilled Brussels sprouts, spiced humus, tuna salad, brie, crackers and other stuff I can’t remember. But what a feast!

After Mukta arrived, we drove up to Charlottesville where we linked up with Biscuit, Evenstar, Longshanks, Mark and Mark.

We arrived at the trailhead at Reed’s Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway about 11pm, thank god it wasn’t raining. We saddled up and started the 1.6 mile walk to the campsite located in front of the Maupin Field Shelter on the Appalachian Trail. The trailhead starts out about about 2600’ goes up over 3100’ then back down to about 2700’.

 

Here we linked up with Tom who had brought his dog ‘stretch’ who is a Scottish Deer Hound (or something like this), this is the biggest breed I have ever seen! Bigger than any Great Dane, more like a small pony, OMG!

Anyway, it was – or seemed – warm and muggy that night as we all settled in.

Saturday was a leisurely start with a late breakfast, we didn’t start walking until almost 10am.

 

Saturday was another hot one and unfortunately Stretch, who is about 7, was struggling so he and Tom turned around and headed back to the trail head.

 

The hike was pretty uneventful, we made a couple of breaks, hiked up and over the three ridges, getting up to 3900’ and stopped for lunch at the last flat rock overlook before the trail dives back into the forest and begins a very steep downhill section.

  

  

We arrived at the area of the Harper’s Creek Shelter (about 1800’) around 4pm. We were the only ones there so I was pretty psyched; normally the place is pretty popular with boy scouts who can hike in from a forest road only about 2 miles from a parking lot.

 

I was beat from the long hot downhill and very glad to reach the shelter.

We were very lucky to have a group of closely located campsites all to ourselves, and pretty close to the stream for water and cooling off. The ONLY drawback was the place was covered with poison ivy so you had to be careful to stay on the paths.

After we set up, a group of us went down to filter some water. Shadeau, Biscuit’s dog, was playing in the stream, so I started up-stream where the water wasn’t disturbed and almost latched onto a 4’ rattle snake moving in and around the rocks! YIKES! Needing to change my pants, I slowly backed away to where the others where resting, we watched the snake for a minute or three, as it slowly starting winding its way down to where we were – Time to go!

 

Needless to say, subsequent water trips were in groups where we could have a look out for the thing. We didn’t have any more encounters.

We made a campfire around which we all made our dinners. I had instant mashed potatoes and made some ‘brown gravy’ on the side. After dinner I made a Banana Muffin in my ‘bake-packer’ and shared it with everybody.

That night, Mark who was ‘backpacking lite’, returned to his sleeping bag laid out on a tarp on the ground and encountered a snake in the dark near his area and decided to relocate elsewhere!

 

 The next morning, Sunday, we had intended to break camp around eight, but that was wishful thinking. I think we hit the trail about 9, taking the AT to the Mar-har trail where we turned north on it heading back up to the parkway. We reached the Campbell creek campsite about 11, took a break and some of us jumped into the creek to cool off. It WAS SWEET!!

 

From Harper’s shelter the trail very steeply goes up from about 1800’ to about 3200’ and then loses all of that elevation gain, going back to about 1700’ when you pick up the trail at Campbell’s creek! So you’re already hot and beat, and then have to re-gain all that elevation on the steep rugged trail back to the Maupin Field shelter! Jeeesuz! What a long hot bitch of a hike. This hike is rated difficult, but since I’ve done it basically 3 times in the past 12 months, I knew, being the second oldest in the group, that it would be ok if I just take my time…so I rated it “easy(?)”, kind of tongue in cheek rating. But then I started feeling really bad when others where huffing and puffing because they trusted my “easy(?)” description. (in fairness, I did refer to the hikingupward.com description of the hike for detailed trip analysis and maps.)

We finally reached the Maupin field shelter around 1pm and everybody was pretty beat. Biscuit almost stepped on another RATTLE SNAKE on a path next to the shelter and almost jumped out of his boots. When I asked him if he took a picture, he looked at me kind of weird :-), so together we went back to find it, where it posed for several photos!

So the last phase was back up and over the 3200’ hill back to the parking lot. Not really much to write about, it went pretty well, no surprises or events to write about. The snakes, the poison ivy, the night hike, but everything went very very smooth. But it was hot and tiring. I call every hike a ‘training hike’ and this one was no different, I’m training for Maroon Bells in 4 weeks and was a little tester for me. Sherpa and Biscuit are also going to Colorado, and both looked to be in pretty good shape.

On the way back we stopped in for a little pizza in a great place Mark recommended, next the University of Virginia campus. It was great, “the mushroom” I think.

Anyway, not much else to report.

One good note, this was a little bit of a challenge for us, and everybody did fantastic, and as far as I’m concerned everybody earned some bone-fide bragging rights for completing a kick-ass hike! It’s all downhill from here (yuk yuk)

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No Such Thing As A Small Accident In The Woods

That’s my mantra and I’m sticking with it.  Mrakun misses the point.  Of course there are literal small accidents that may have little or no consequence.  But if you’re backpacking, then you probably don’t have immediate access to 911 help or rescue. Accidents and their consequences are MAGNIFIED by the seriousness of the injury/accident and the distance to rescue or appropriate medical attention.

Somebody who is walking in the woods, no problem; but, somebody running in the woods, with a pack, and then again in the dark, literally hours from walking out, has just multiplied the chances of having an accident, and possibly a serious accident.  Somebody who has a turned ankle and can’t walk out on their own, that’s not small in my book.

My mantra is advice to be careful and consider the consequences of your actions, further, to conduct real quick risk analysis as you walk, cross a stream, tightrope a wet log over a rushing creek, try to down climb/rock scramble, even leaving your sleeping bag out of the waterproof bag or going into the woods without a map (or not knowing how to use them).

Backpacking is a subset of Mountaineering, whether you intend to ever climb a mountain or not.  All the skills are transferable.  Even the skills of critical thinking (whether one is aware or not), to understand risks, identify objective dangers and learning how to plan, are applied to both backpacking and mountaineering. 

Every single skill you perfect in the woods of Virginia can be applied to the mountains of Colorado or Switzerland.  With the exception of roped glacier travel, rescue, and avalanches, all the skills necessary in the forest apply, e.g.  Layering to stay warm and/or dry, sleeping, camping, cooking, first aid, navigation, route planning, leadership, etc, etc, etc..

So lighten up, you’re probably ready to start mountain climbing and don’t even know it.

Told To Sleep Naked In The Woods? Turn The Other Cheek!

Phil Reed’s Hikes Photo Albums

Let me try to get this started with some Phil-osophy, this is the way I think.

I have a mantra I bore people with every hike. #1.  What goes down must come up, and #2.  There’s no such thing as a small accident in the wilderness.

Backpacking is training for the main event, Mountaineering.  You have to learn to pay attention to every bit of minutiae, every little detail of your route, your equipment, objective and subjective dangers.

Your sleeping bag could be your last line of defense in an emergency, your last refuge;  Keep your bag dry at all costs, especially a down bag.

Don’t get into your bag with wet clothing – unless you don’t have any choice;  You may get away with this if your bag is fiber filled.  The only time you get into your bag nude is when you know it’s going to be warm enough or your bag is down and your all your clothes are soaking wet.

Here’s the problem, and there’s a couple of issues here.  If you get into you down bag and you have wet clothing, you risk getting the down wet, losing loft, losing the ability of the down to trap and warm air, losing the insulation down provides to keep you warm.  Further, wet clothing against you skin prevents any possibility of trapping and warming air against you skin, which is the definition of keeping warm in the first place.

You stay warm when dead air is trapped and warmed against you skin.  Wind can blow this warm air away from your skin, (wind chill), and cool you down.  This is when you put on a parka to trap the air and keep you warm.

If the outside air temperature is too cold, wind or no wind, you need insulation to trap – and warm – the air next to your skin.  The colder the outside air the more layers of insulation you need.

Let’s say Squirrel is standing naked in the snow (could happen 🙂 ), somebody hands her some thermals, she starts to warm up, but is still cold.  You throw her a shirt and some pants to put on over the thermals, a little warmer, but still cold.  Now you throw her a sweater, some rain pants, then a parka, a hat, some gloves, a down vest, – get the picture?  At some point, hopefully, she’s finally warm and cozy, still standing in the snow.  Now you throw her a giant down comforter – wow! Finally toasty!  No wait, somebody told her all you needed was the giant down comforter (sleeping bag), so you need to strip all the clothing off and just wear the bag?  WTF?

Kind of depends on the rating of the bag, how cold the outside temperature is, whether you sleep warm or cold.  You probably need some combination, but there’s no rule that you need to sleep in the nude, unless your bag is too hot, or you’re with your sweetie(?).  Note:  If my bag is rated 30F (comfort) that means it will not keep me warm below 45F.  My zero bag works for me in the upper teens, then the sweater and hat go on, possibly a hot water bottle inside my bag.

Ok, let’s sum up.

1.  Keep your bag dry, at all costs.

2.  Don’t get into your bag with wet clothing, unless in a survival situation, and then only in a fiber bag.

3.  It’s ok to wear clothes/coat/sweater/hat/gloves/thermals – or nothing in your bag, to stay comfortable.

4.  Remember to take the 10 essentials, what? you don’t know about the 10 essentials?

5.  And finally, there’s no such thing as a small accident in the woods and that backpacking is training for mountaineering, so stop relying on other people to read the map, ok that’s 3 things.

6.  And don’t trust the temperature rating on the bag. (final point)

good bye

please comment, thanks, adios

chupa

New Rant coming soon…

I’m sick and tired of people telling others ” you need to strip down” in your sleeping bag to stay warm.  This makes me absolutely crazy!!!  Common sense, logic, and science are completely ignored, resulting in total shit advice.

I’ll lay it all out for debate very soon!

comments appreciated.

ps.  the blog people say the best blogs are deliberately confrontational, posting definite views, not being wishy washy

and

encouraging comments!

Grand Canyon National Park Backpacking Trip, 6-11 March 2012

We’re back!  Great trip, my first visit to the Grand Canyon.  Myself, Geardog (Rich) and Meghan Sherpa (Meghan).

The Three Amigos Ready To Depart (L-R)yours truly, Sherpa, Geardog

PHOTO ALBUM:  https://picasaweb.google.com/100284807835224819162/GRANDCANYONBACKPACK6DAYSMARCH2012#

Monday, 6 March:  I flew to Vegas, arriving about 1300 and was met by geardog, Sherpa, and geardog’s wife, Lisa, at baggage claim, a very nice, great start.  Picked up my pack and went straight to the rental car.  Everyone else had the good sense to arrive on Sunday the 5th, so they were pretty fresh, or should have been.   Sherpa said she had a “very good time” in Vegas after she arrived, and was out late, hmmmm.

First stop was at Wal-Mart in Vegas to pick up supplies.  We each picked up an 8oz Coleman brand canister of butane/propane.  I was a little concerned about 1 canister being enough for 6 days, but it was, and we all wound up with plenty left, too bad, had to leave them at the park, donating them to the Bright Angel Lodge reception desk.

At Wal-Mart, I also picked up up a giant bag of Frito’s and a bottle of Bushmill’s Irish whiskey, which I poured into a plastic water bottle for the trip (a little over half of the bottle).  Sherpa, bought some chips for the drive, some chocolate, some cheese? a bottle of some god-awful tasting (for me) brand of whiskey (sorry, ;-).  I can’t recall what geardog bought.  After that it was off to Arizona.

We stopped for dinner at the Road Kill Cafe in Seligman, Az.  I gave it a B+, the concept and ‘décor’ was great.  We arrived at the park around 9PM, dropped off Sherpa at her Lodge, then checked in to the Bright Angel Lodge.

Tuesday 6 March:  Hike to Indian Garden, downhill, 3000’ elev drop.  We linked up at the Bright Angel Lodge desk area about 9AM, stowed Sherpa’s stuff in geardog’s room, and then we all headed to breakfast.  After breakfast it was off to geardog and Lisa’s room to get our packs; Lisa would stay on the South Rim and site-see until her mule ride and overnight at the Phantom Ranch on Friday the 9th.

Between 10 and 11AM we were ready and took off on the Bright Angel trail to Indian Garden campground, about 5 miles.

The trail was immediately snow and ice covered, so we stopped and put on our crampons.

It was cool and the wind was gusting, the skies clear, temps probably in the upper 40’s.  There was hard packed ice on the trail all the way to the “3 mile rest house”.  The 3 mile rest house is at the end of the switch backs so the final mile, mile & half to Indian Garden was pretty level.  We had taken our time walking on the ice and taking pictures, arriving around 3pm, about 4 hrs to go the 4 miles; we REALLY took our time.

Mile-and-half Rest House

Setting up at Indian Garden, Sherpa's site in rear

Indian Garden pops out of the desert with lots of trees and several flowing streams.  The water was turned on in spite of the numerous signs to the contrary so we didn’t have to filter here.  Each campsite has its own picnic table and cover for shade – very nice set up.  The latrines were clean and spotless and odorless.

Around 5pm we decided to hike the 3 miles round trip to plateau point, the recommended side trip from IG.  So far the views had been breathtaking, especially for me a first time visitor, 360 degree spectacular views, everywhere, every step of the trail.

DEVIL'S CORKSCREW FROM PLATEAU POINT

COLORADO RIVER FROM PLATEAU POINT

Plateau Point ramped up those views by about a factor of 3!  From PP you get your first view of the Colorado River from 1000’ above, spectacular views of the north rim and to the east and west, with long views of the river flowing through massive gorges within the park, absolutely breathtaking.  Also from PP one can see the Bright Angel trail, our trail for today and tomorrow, winding its way down towards the river and Phantom Ranch.  One gets a glimpse of another spectacular view of the ‘Devils Corkscrew’ (I think that’s the name, but not on our map) which is an awesome looking series of switch backs straight down a mountain canyon, our goal for tomorrow.  We take about a million pictures; the wind starts to really howl so we head back to IG.

Darkness falls about 20 minutes after we returned (good timing) and we eat by headlamps.

Note:  Leaving for PP, we ran across a guy, looking to be in his 40’s or 50’, claiming to be from Canada and an experienced outdoorsman, only wearing light shoes, a cotton sweater, no pack or map, and a small plastic water bottle, who also claims to be too tired to hike back up to the rim and asks for our advise, this is about 5 pm, 2 hrs of daylight left.  He asks if he should attempt the hike to Phantom Ranch (5 miles) or stay here.  We advise him to seek assistance from the Ranger residence at IG; he seems very reluctant to do that.  Next morning we ask a park plumber working on the gravity fed water line to the S. Rim if he had heard if Mr. Canada was ok, he said Mr. C slept outdoors in one of the out buildings and was already headed back up.  Note: It got down into the mid 30’s with high winds that night. Yikes!

Note:  The winds howled like on-coming freight trains all night, threatening to blow down the tents.  We learned about Grand Canyon dust, it covered everything that night, getting into the tents and covering anything left out, bags, tent floors, we’re talking big time dirt/dust here.  This storm dumped snow on the S. Rim and it was snowing just trace amounts at IG as we were packing out.

Wednesday 7 March:  Hike to Bright Angel Camp/Phantom Ranch, downhill, 1000’ elev drop.  It’s pretty cool when we start walking to Bright Angel Camp/Phantom Ranch (4 ½-5 miles), the sky is clearing, probably 40’s, so we still need our parkas.  The trail is great, the light great, so lots of photos, we take our time, have lunch at pipe creek beach on the Colorado River, cross the ‘silver bridge’ and arrive at Phantom Ranch in about 4 hrs.  This would be the trend.  Get up when we feel like it, have a leisurely breakfast, hit the trail, stroll along, take a million photos, and get to camp about mid afternoon – what a vacation!

Bit of snow leaving Indian Garden

Sherpa in Action; Flying Tiger - Leaping Dragon (NOT THE LATER RIVER CROSSING NEAR RIBBON FALLS)

Each day, the only exception being the days to/from Cottonwood, we would be passed by mule convoys taking customers to or from the S. Rim to Phantom Ranch.

We arrive,  cross the silver bridge, walk past a corral right on the river, turn a left corner into a small valley, trees along the large stream, reach the bright angel campground, select 2 adjoining sites, pitch camp, then go wandering over to Phantom Ranch to check out the big deal (Phantom Ranch) and the cantina.  The cantina is closed due to getting ready for the dinner meals, so we look around and return to camp.

Around 5-5:30 we decided to check out the trail loop connecting the silver and black bridges spanning the Colorado River.  We head south back down the Kaibab trail, cross a small bridge over bright angel creek, and follow the north bank of the Colorado River east on the Kaibab trail, reach the black bridge, cross over to the south bank of the CR, walk thru a man made tunnel and up the path to a high point above the rocks overlooking the river onto a connecting trail that seems to have been blasted out of the sheer cliff.  We follow the trail, now west, reaching our earlier trail, bright angel, and cross the silver bridge for the second time that day. Maybe 1.5 – 2 miles.

We get back, eat dinner, and then once again hit the sack.

Thursday 8 March:  Hike to Cottonwood.  Uphill, 1500’ elev gain.  We’re in our routine now.  Get up, pack up, breakfast, or get up breakfast, pack up, last-chance bathroom breaks, then depart.  The park doesn’t want anyone to cook on the picnic tables so we’re supposed to heat water or cook on the ground.  I’m boiling water in my jetboil, on the table, hoping I’m not caught.  At Phantom Ranch/Bright Angel camp the Rangers were definitely checking permit and recording names on their little clip boards and visiting with or interrogating campers; however I don’t recall the rangers at IG or CW doing anything more than just walking down the adjoining paths checking to see if the permit was displayed, if that.

Around 10am we head up the N. Kaibab trail for the 8miles to Cottonwood, following Bright Angel Creek (heavily flowing, lots and lots of water).  We walk for 2-3 miles in a canyon known as “The Box”, the trail then comes out of “the box” and the canyon opens up presenting increased photo ops.  The day warms up to the upper 70’s or so (I know, ooooh!) and we need to put on sun block, hats, and sunglasses.

We arrive at CW around 3:30, after about 5 hrs and a long lunch on the creek.  CW is much more exposed to the sun and there is not as much shade.  The camp sites a little higher up on the hillside and the trees a little smaller, brushier.  The water is not turned on so we finally get to use our filters we’ve been lugging along.

 

Somewhere around this time, Sherpa gets tired of my constant whining and begging for somebody to eat some of my M&M’s, about a pound’s worth starting out.  I don’t know what I was thinking, my past trail notes say ‘lost appetite, again, don’t bring M&M’s!!!  She agrees to take them off my hands! (YEAH!).  Later – tit for tat – she dumps her Mountain House scrambled eggs breakfast on me, and I’m happy to take them.

COTTONWOOD

Note:  We wound up with a few too many deserts.  One night, we had 2 maybe 3 deserts!  Everybody was trying to unload deserts before the end of the hike and the long 3000’ haul up on the last day!  When you plan these hikes, sitting at home, you come up with all these great menu possibilities, breakfasts, soups on the trail, cold meats and cheeses, dinners, deserts, munchies for walking; but when you get on the trail, you just don’t seem to be as hungry as you anticipated!

Note:  Great stargazing at CW!  This was a great opportunity to view the night sky.

Friday 9 March:  Hike back to Bright Angel Camp/Phantom Ranch.  Downhill, 1500’ elev drop.  Now we start our return leg, heading south, getting different views.  We select the low route alternative at Ribbon Falls avoiding a steep climb over a hill, but mandating a river crossing.  We get a good view of lower Ribbon Falls and wonder how in the heck the trail makes it up over the falls and down an upper canyon to the upper falls?  We next get our first major creek crossing, but there are rocks small and large, but still requiring some intense concentration and leaps of faith; nobody want to spend the next 2 ½ days with wet boots or worse!  We all made it ok, but my legs were shaking when I got across.  I got a great video of Sherpa trying to work out her jump moves and then going for it!

We arrive at Phantom Ranch and link up with Lisa, who had arrived after a 6hr mule caravan down from the South Rim.  All 4 of us had steak dinners at the Phantom Ranch cantina (I know, this could be classified as cheating) and had a great time perfecting our adventure lies with Lisa.  Truthfully speaking, everything went pretty good, so except for the lost Canadian, the windstorm, snowfall, and river crossing, not much to brag about.

That night we got to star gaze once more and learned that Lisa is a budding astronomer, delighting us with descriptions of the different constellations.

Saturday 10 March:  Hike to Indian Garden.  Uphill, 1000’ elev gain.  We get to breakfast once again at the Cantina and say goodbye to Lisa as she reports at 0730 for the mule caravan back to the South Rim.  We pack up and head out about 10 – 10:30 or so, cross the silver bridge, down the canyon off the Colorado River and over to the foot of the ‘Devil’s Corkscrew’ or Devil’s Sphincter, as I called it.  Pretty awesome view, but graded well and handled pretty easy.  We arrived at IG around 2pm and had plenty of time to rest up for the last day’s climb up to the rim.  Here the battle is on to get rid of extra candy, meals, and deserts to lighten packs.  Also we try to calculate how much water each of us needs to carry tomorrow since the water is turned off at the 2 rest houses.  I settle for my camelbak 1.5 liter and my 1 liter canteen ½ full. (About ½ the way up, I know I can safely dump out the canteen contents.)

Sunday 11 March:  I recommend a 6am start and the others grudgingly agree.  I get up at 5am and wake everybody up.  Coming back from the latrine I notice that the others are huddled together leering at me.  They let me know it’s not 5am; it’s actually 4am (oops).  Turns out my watch is set to Denver time and DST, however, Arizona doesn’t observe DST, but my watch doesn’t know I’m in Arizona and “falls back” 1 hr. (sorry guys).  Anyway, we still don’t get out of camp until around 6:20 or so.  The weather cools as we gain elevation, coats come off, and then the coats go back on.  We make great time, all my training has REALLY paid off, and we make it to the rim in 3.5 hrs!!

The trail is covered with more ice than 6 days earlier and is much more dangerous.  The rangers have spread dirt on some of the worst spots.  None of this stops the daily mule trains.  We pass many day hikers in tennis shoes and warn them about the slipping danger, most don’t seem to listen or care.  A fall here could be fatal. In fact, we learned that a few days before we started, a hiker did in fact slip on the ice, falling off the trail to their death.  A slip with a 35lb pack would be tough even if there wasn’t a 1000’ drop almost everwhere.  Needless to say, the crampons we wore paid for themselves this trip!  High up the rim we pass a huge frozen waterfall that wasn’t there when we left!

We link up with Lisa, get showers and have plenty of time to visit each souvenir shop on the south rim and grab a bite before finally closing this chapter and heading back to Vegas.

Notes:

1.  Packed way too much food, didn’t need M&M’s, cashews, soups, candy (NEVER AGAIN). Packed too many deserts as a group, need better coordination.

2.  Whisky didn’t last long, between 3 people!  Cheers!

3.  Tweaked right Achilles tendon training week before trip so it was sore every morning until it warmed up, ran out of acetaminophen, need to bring more next time.

4.  Forgot my sun block, had to mooch from Sherpa.

Water Water Everywhere, and Oh the Boards Did Shrink….

I was very young, and I was enlisted and stationed at Ft Hood.  The Army had taught us in basic training and Infantry school a simple technique one could use to ‘examine’ water prior to drinking.  This was around the time I had to filter water from a dried river bed thru a sweat sock at Big Bend NP while on a backpacking trip, before I had ever heard of backpacking water purifiers.

The method was this; 1.  Look at the water to make sure it was clear 2.  Smell the water to detect any odors 3.  Slightly taste the water to detect any odd or bad tastes.  It’s not a bad common sense, last resort type of thing.

But then came my trip to Mexico.  Drove to Laredo, took the overnight train to Mexico City, stayed for 2 weeks, and then took a bus, via Guadalajara, to Puerto Vallarta.  Stayed in a cheap hotel for $3 a night.  When it rained, the river turned brown, and so did the water in my room.

Long story short, Montezuma caught me and I had it bad, at both ends, for 3 full days, until I hopped a plane for San Antonio and some fresh water.

Hence my obsession with clean water and purifiers.

If you canoe or raft down the Shenandoah river up from Luray, you see cows standing in the water doing their ‘business’ – (yum! pass the canteen!)

When hiking with folks who don’t bother to purify their water, I think about mexico.  I KNOW that there are springs and creeks from springs where the water is probably clean, and I will drink from those myself, but I for one will always recommend that hikers beware and be prepared to clean their water.

One of the disturbing trends is in the manufacturing world of purifiers.  It is getting harder and harder to finds filters for older model purifiers which necessitates upgrading.

So over the years I’ve gone from a Sniff test, to a sweatsock, to boiling, to iodine tablets(YUK!!) to a Pur, to a First Need (lack of filters for both), to a Katahdin  model (nice but heavy), to a Steripen, expensive but VERY light, and the wand is glass, so its fragile and needs batteries. 

Let’s hope the Steripen stays around for a while..I’ll drink to that!