While these disgusting drinks didn't make it into the top three of our Hydration Horror Stories contest, they're still truly terrible tales of water woe.
See the circled hole in the image above.
Linville Gorge trip – October 2017
We were on a 3-day loop starting at Table Rock and going clockwise. We started the hike with 2 liters of water each, planning to hit a few watering holes along the way to our first campsite. The terrain was much harder than anticipated and we burned through the water quickly. Unfortunately, every water spot was dry. We came to a fork in the trail and my hiking companion was out of the water, so I decided to let them rest while I took the left fork looking for water. The spring I was in search of (2 miles out) was also dry. After returning, we pressed onward for another 2 hours, until we hit the Linville River. Unfortunately, the Rangers warned is not to filter from the river itself, as the water was not safe.
After digging a hole in the muck, scooping dirty water, filtering through a bandana, filtering through a coffee filter and then through my Sawyer mini… We got water… and drink we did!
My worst water source would have to be the stock tank I was forced to resupply from while mountain biking down near the Mexican Border near the Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona. We ran out of water mid ride and I ended up refilling my bottles by covering the mouth with my bandanna and shoving it down beneath the layer of algae and bugs. I guess that counts as filtering :-) It was a little greenish...and so was I .
The year, 1974. Way before filters and the basic protection, iodine tablets. My cousins and I were camping on the Toutle River (before the Mt. Saint Helens Explosion) and using water from the river for drinking. We decided not to use the iodine tablets on our last day as the taste was horrible. We were fishing downstream of our camp with no success. We decided one more time before leaving just upstream above our camp a horrible sight. A dead deer spinning in the current.
Florida Trail Fail
My boyfriend and I were hiking a weekend in Central Florida during the summer. After 7.5 miles, we saw a sign for Lake Delancy Campgrounds. I noticed a lot of people there, partying and constantly riding their ATVs. It was so loud compared to us just being in the forest. I read in an old FT guide that there was supposed to be a water faucet here but seeing people with water jugs at every camp, I got really worried. We asked around and someone mentioned the faucet was on the other side of the campgrounds. I sat down in a patch of grass to wrap my head around what we were going to do. J.J. scoped out the other area and he came back to me saying it was much quieter over there.
We trudged to the other side of the camp, I was exhausted and we're low on water. Reaching the other camp, we found out that there was no water faucet anymore. Make sure your guidebook is up to date. I learned that lesson that day.
I grabbed my platypus dirty bag dirty water bag and walked to the lake. My shoes got muddy and even with a big opening, I couldn't get much water in. I walked back and found a beer can in a recycling bin. I cut it in half to make a scoop and walked back to the lake. I managed to fill my bag up with black lake water. As I came walking back, the look on J.J.'s face was priceless. Disgust, I believe. I was just thrilled that there was water. Through trial and error finding out which bags I should be using for particle-filled lake water, I got it to be clear with the first run through and with no particles on the second run through.
I felt proud that I could do this and make it work. Granted, it tasted like stagnant lake water but it was safe. Thank goodness! We cooked with it and filtered enough to the next and final day of our weekend hike.
Bad Water, Good Memories
Last weekend I took my daughter on a hike that ended on a peninsula trail where we would camp on a lake. Easy spot to get water, I thought, for the evening and the next day. While hiking the wind picked up and when we got to our site on the lake waves were rolling in with the muddiest water I have ever seen. Used my Cnoc Outdoors bag for a quick fill and first time I have ever used it. My daughter said, "no way" she is drinking that until it came crystal clear out the filter and made a nice hot chocolate for the campfire! Filled 3 more times to put out the fire and pack water. Memories made!
This is not gross but just a combination of: newbies to backpacking/ wrong time of year/ and not enough CNOC bags!!! We were on our second backpacking adventure of late summer/fall since not backpacking in 33 years. First one in August went great using our 2L bag as extra water for hauling in a mile or more to great overnight dry campsites. Our second adventure a month later was after no rain for 5 weeks and hot fall temps. We were warned by other hikers that the small creek further ahead was dry. We carefully loaded up our bottles and our extra 2L CNOC bag at the river before climbing 1000’ / 1.5 miles to a do or die makeshift campsite on the edge of the 1000’ cliff we just zig-zagged up!
After being up over 15 hrs and hiking 11 hrs squeezing our small tent on the edge of the cliff off the trail and making some lemonade was almost all we could do. We managed to fix a boil water into a bag meal and eat a bit but knew we were low on water and would need to ration it out to hike out the next day. The hot temps and lots of altitude gain were not helping with our low water supply. We made it to the trailhead the next afternoon with one gulp left but our bodies were not what you would call hydrated. Our promise to each other was we would buy more Cnoc bags as backups and that is what I did!!!
Margo & Jack Anthony
Thank you to all of our participants! Our next blog post will examine the different types of filters that are available for hikers and bikers and discuss which is best for different dubious water scenarios.