I'm planning to do a 2.5 day hike in the Saguaro Wilderness / Rincon Mountains by Tucson. If you have any insight in that area voice up.
For this trip I'll finally need a reliable filtration system. I've had first hand experience pumping after a long day of hiking and being tired. It wasn't fun. Gravity filters just sounds like a no brainier to me.
I'm eying the Sawyer Complete Water Filter System. They have a 2 liter and a 4 liter system. The four liter system looks nicer, with the spigot and handles. Do you think I'll regret having the large bladders when solo hiking?
I'm planning to get the .1 micron filter system. I tried their 0.02 micron viral filter that I got with a bottle kit. With it I only achieved extremely slow flow rate so that it's unusable.
Loc: Portland, OR
Generally speaking, most any backcountry water source in the USA will not be much of a risk for viral contamination, so your decision to omit the viral filter and only filter for bacteria, parasites and cysts ought to be entirely safe.
I don't have experience with the system you are asking about, but the major reason for bumping up to a 4-liter system would be if you expect to have a fairly large hiking party needing water. The 4 liter system might be more convenient in that case, even if it is heavier.
Presumably, you would be able to pour off filtered water into other containers/bladders/bottles out of your 2 liter system and then refill it.
BTW, I use a gravity filter these days and do not miss pumping at all.
Loc: California (southern)
Home, sweet home! The Rincons were my early stomping ground when I attended the U of Arizona and I really like the area. Water sources are not abundant, but those that are marked are fairly dependable - when are you planning your trip?
Truth to tell I never treated any of the water I drank in the Rincons and I have consumed several gallons, but that was fifty years ago. Personally, I would just boil, but any bacterial/Giardia filter should work just fine. I would pay attention to weight.
I would start out with plenty of water - it can be a long pull to the first water source, depending upon the trail. In the summer or fall, that could be over a gallon.
A lot of your water treatment needs for the Rincon Mountains depend on 1) the time of year and 2) where you are headed. I average three weeks a year in the Rincon Mountains in all seasons. The worst time for finding water sources is in late spring and early summer just before the summer rainy season starts. Late fall can also be a bit dry. Knowing the water sources is a big help but hard to do if you are not a local.
As Old Ranger stated, most of the approaches to the Rincon high country are dry even in the wet times of year. Most hiker traffic is on the Tanque Verde Ridge trail to Manning Camp. The first relatively reliable water on that trail is at Juniper Basin (8 uphill miles) and that often dries up in late spring. Manning Camp (16 miles) was dry for a while last year; it is usually reliable. So, plan on taking plenty of water for the first day and inquire about water status at the Visitor Center before you start hiking; you can do this by phone.
Based on my personal experience, I would not use a gravity filter in the Rincon Mountains. A lot of the available water sources are hard to get at and small. They occur in small pockets well below the general surface -- Think of seeing water at the bottom of an 18" deep, 4" wide gap between large boulders. The water sources can also be quite biologically active. This means: 1) scooping water out to put into a gravity filter can be problematic at best and; 2) you need a filter that is easily back-flushed or otherwise cleaned.
A filter that can draw water up from an otherwise inaccessible source is a definite plus in the Rincon Mountains as is one that can easily and quickly be field cleaned. I have had to clean my filter after pumping less than a liter.
Also, even after filtering, some of the water sources can yield some pretty foul-tasting/smelling water. I frequently add a Micropur tab to my filtered water just to make it taste and smell better. It really helps.
I use an old MSR Sweetwater for my Rincon trips. I am sure that there are many others that meet the above criteria but I bought the MSR some time ago and have never felt the need to replace it. But, any filter that can be cleaned and that can draw water up from a sunken source will be more useful than a gravity filter.
I'm not sure why the Tanque Verde trail is so popular but it gets a lot of traffic, especially day hikers. It used to have some shady spots before the fire and you get into timber near Cow Head Saddle even now.
For over-night hikes, I think I would be reluctant to leave my car at the Douglas Springs trail-head for fear of vandalism or worse. It is right there at the end of Speedway Blvd. where a lot of slack-jawed, mouth-breathers congregate late at night to smoke weed and act irresponsibly.
I get my camp sites for $3.00 per night because I am an official, U. S. Government-certified, card-carrying, old-fart.
Not sure if you have heard but they relocated the Happy Valley Saddle camp site to a spot much nearer the actual saddle and put in a composting toilet. You still have to hike down to the old camp to get water though. Most of the year you need to strain about a quart of slurry to get a cup of water and the stuff you strained out sits there and squirms.
The most reliable water in the Rincons is at Mud Hole Spring on the Turkey Creek trail. I have never, in ten years, seen it dry and it has nearly always been flowing clear and clean. I don't bother treating that water. A lot of the water sources require prior sorting before drinking or filtering. I generally have to fish out a dead squirrel or coyote from a water hole at least once a year. I just don't like chewy water very much.
Deer Head Spring, which is prominently marked on the maps, has never had water in the ten years I have been hiking past, even in the wet years.
Here's my process for the two-bag system, with the filter plugged into the clean water bag:
*Hang the source (dirty) water bag. *Attach the hose (has a quick connector). *Lower the hose until it fills with water. *Plug in the filter and lower the collection bag the rest of the way.
It will then flow very quickly. If I want to skip the collection bag I leave the filter attached to the hose and place it atop the dirty water bag until needed, they I fill directly from the filter itself.
Originally Posted By Glenn
How do you accomplish that trick of clearing the air from the hose? (I'm toying with the idea of trying a gravity filter.)
Loc: California (southern)
I guess change is inevitable, even in the wilderness. At least you can say you know someone who has drunk from Deer Head Spring, even though it just a little bit.
I understand Spud Rock Cabin is no more - it was doing just fine back in 1956.
Getting back to the OP, I notice you are coming out from Iowa. My question would be why did you choose the Rincons? If it because they are in a National Park, you might want to rethink. I would have to say that there are plenty of trips in the Santa Catalinas, just north of Tucson, that would provide an equally great or even better trip. Not all of the good stuff is within the NPs, by any means!
My information is a little dated, but I bet Pika would chime in here again with current information. In the Catalinas, you can hike along actually flowing streams. There is significantly more water in that range.
I will be going in the beginning of October this year. It will be a crazy fly-in, hike, fly-out kind of dealy. Oh and getting a fuel canister first.
I've day hiked the Tucson Mountains, Bear-Sabino Canyon loop, and up to Bridal Veil Falls in the past. So I thought of exploring a different area.
I was either thinking of
Day 1: Hike up Tanque Verde Ridge Trail from the Javelina Trail Head and camp at Juniper Basin. 6.9 miles Day 2: Next day continue hiking up Cow Head Saddle and Fire Loop trails to Mica Mountain. Then return to and camp at Manning Camp. 12 miles Day 3: Hike back via Manning Camp, Douglas Spring, and Tanque Verde Ridge trails. 18 miles
Day 1: Hike up Miller Creek trail from the Miller Creek Trail Head and camp at Happy Valley Saddle. 4.9 miles Day 2: Next day continue hiking Ricon Creek, Douglas Spring and Cow Head Saddle trails to camp at Manning Camp. 17.4 miles Day 3: Hike up Mica Mountain then head back via Heartbreak Ridge and Miller Creek trails. 13 miles
If could find someone to drop me off at the Miller Creek Trail Head, I would do a hike through to the the Javelina Trail Head. But I doubt that will happen.
Loc: California (southern)
I really like your second trip, but if you will be in the Happy Valley Saddle, I would definitely opt for a quick trip up Rincon Peak. But that is easy for me to say, I am not gaining the elevation.
There is (or was, I understand it is much diminished now) a large rock cairn on Rincon's summit, left over from the Geronimo campaigns of the 1890s. Rincon Peak was a station in the heliograph network used in that campaign.
I ended up getting the 2 liter system. Mainly because it's more suited as a hydration pack in my backpack. Also it's smaller (aka lighter) and all I need if I go solo. The spigot cap can actually be purchased separately for $16 or so but why? It will just add more weight.
A simple test run at home showed that the 0.10 micron filter performed much better than the 0.02 micron. So I won't dehydrate while watching the filter drip really slowly. The quick connects look quite nice. Let's hope they don't start leaking.
Now let's just hope there is some water at Happy Valley Saddle otherwise I'll have to backpack it.
As for the route, I decided on a modification to the second option so I can hike up the Rincon Peak on the second day. I won't be doing the loop down Ricon Creek trail past Madrona. Instead I head back the Heartbreak Ridge trail to Manning. Doing both, the Rincon Peak and hiking the loop would be to much for me.
I did a couple of practice hikes and on the last one I took the Sawyer bladder and it's drinking tube with me. I confirmed a major flaw with the drinking tube. The tube that I got wasn't the clear type but blue. Instead of the tube to go over the fitting of the quick release L, they had a short piece of clear tubing that went over the fitting. The blue tube was just slid under the clear tubing and "secured" with a Ziploc tie. It could easily be pulled out and it slowly leaked there.
I took off the clear tubing and pushed the blue drinking tube directly on the quick release fitting. It's pretty tight on it even without a Ziploc tie and should work for my 3 day hike this weekend.
Just a quick after trip update. The water filtration system worked out quite well on my hike. Since I didn't know for sure about water availability on my first camp I took 6 liters of water (filled both bags of the Sawyer system and had a platypus bag). It turned out that there was little stagnant water that looked horrible. So I'm glad I didn't had to rely on it. Although that would have been a good test of the system.
With the 6 liters I had plenty of water for the second day as well. At the second camp I filtered 6 liters from a flowing creek with very clear water. A trip report with photos is at my blog.