Carrying Water

Posted by: zecook

Carrying Water - 06/22/10 02:54 PM

I want to take my scout troop on a three day backpacking trip in the Guadalupe Mtn Park in west Texas, but there's no water in the back country. How can we carry water for three days? What is the best way to do that?
Posted by: Glenn

Re: Carrying Water - 06/22/10 03:09 PM

I don't hike in your region, so I can't give you any specific advice.

However, are water caches feasible where you're going?
Posted by: CrowKel

Re: Carrying Water - 06/22/10 06:04 PM

If I may, my troop (which happens to be my roomate, and boyfriend)go hiking a lot, and dont like to carry water. We have purchased a water purifier pump.

We each bring 1 empty 1.5L water bottle each, then we just have to pump and drink.

I live in Canada in the Rockies, so I don't know what the water situation is like down there? It could be like an american asking me if I have a dogsled, like Rick Mercer said on TV. But if you do have any access to water, there are many new techniques to purify, including the steriPEN.

check that one out, I just did today, and am pretty impressed that major towns and cities use the same principle of Ultra Violet light to sanitize H2O for drinking.
Posted by: phat

Re: Carrying Water - 06/22/10 06:12 PM

Yes, I also hate to carry water, but CrowKel you may not that the OP indicated they were going where there is *no* water. I do the same thing in the canadian rockes, I seldom carry more than a litre with me, and only carry pristine drops to purify.

If water is actually available on the trail, then great, carry some form of treatment, but if not, 3 days worth of water will be *very* heavy in that environment.
Posted by: CrowKel

Re: Carrying Water - 06/22/10 06:15 PM

OOPS! Sorry, I must have selective reading! I wouldnt know then how to carry a whole barrel full of water with just the scouts.

Sorry! wink
Posted by: finallyME

Re: Carrying Water - 06/22/10 06:27 PM

You either cache it, horse pack it in, 4 wheel it in, detour your hike each day to a road where you can bring a car with water, or you carry it.

For carrying: assign 4 boys a day to carry the bulk of it on a stretcher. Pull a cart if the trails allow it. Or each carry 3 gallons. Gallon milk jugs are probably going to be the lightest solution.
Posted by: oldranger

Re: Carrying Water - 06/23/10 08:22 AM

Have you talked to anyone on the park staff? There will be someone who is intimately familiar with the situation and who can provide very detailed information. I looked briefly at the park's web page and I noticed that at least two water sources within the park are off limits for human consumption and are reserved for wildlife.

I have never been in Guadalupe, but I have a lot of experience in arid land hiking (Arizona) and what you are proposing sounds pretty formidable. In a best case situation, you will need a minimum of three gallons per person. That's roughly 25 pounds of water. Adding in other gear, you are looking at a pretty tough trip especially for young lads who are relative beginners and who may not possess a lot of ULUE (ultralight, ultraexpensive)gear. If I were introducing someone to the joy of backpacking, I would choose a trip where water would not be an issue.

It will be interesting to see what info the folks in the park can provide, but I would seriously consider alternative trips. Within the Lincoln NF, particularly around Cloudcroft, New Mexico, there is some delightful, well watered country. I had a great trip there a while ago - no concerns about water at all.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Carrying Water - 06/23/10 06:11 PM

1 gallon of water (8 lbs.) per day (needed in that desert environment) times three days equals 24 lbs. for each scout to carry in addition to their gear.

That's a LOT of weight for young, still growing (and therefore more easily damaged) bodies to carry! I certainly couldn't do it!

Posted by: alcap

Re: Carrying Water - 06/23/10 07:00 PM

I am familiar with this area, hike BigBend N.P. and BBRanch State Park, and I've spent some time in the Lincoln N.F. right across the border from Guadalupe.
I'm afraid your only option is to carry your water, and as others have said, that is a heck of a load. Can you plan a shorter out and back/ one night hike?
Posted by: Haiwee

Re: Carrying Water - 06/24/10 11:32 AM

I've done quite a bit of desert hiking over the years here in Southern California, and follow a few personal rules:

First, I try to plan a hike into an area with reliable water sources. You say your trip is in a place with "no water." Plan carefully and ask questions of local rangers; you might be surprised to find there are springs and seeps available. If not, look for alternative routes. A caveat: make sure to carry enough water to hike out early should your spring be found dry. I've had to bail out on more than one occasion when my formally reliable water source was found dry.

Second, if there is no reliable water, I limit my hikes to out and back two-day treks. Trying to lug twenty-plus pounds of water for a three-day trip is too much for me and, I suspect, for most people. Carry at least a gallon per person per day, and drink it. I used to carry gallon water jugs until I had one spring a leak. Now I carry several of those 1 1/2 liter Arrowhead bottles.

Third, I plan dry meals that don't need to be rehydrated; save the water for drinking.

Fourth, again, drink your water. By all means don't allow your scouts to ration. Make sure they stay hydrated. Many a person have been found debilitated or even dead from dehydration in the desert back country with a half-full water bottle next to them.

Also, make sure your scouts wear wide-brimmed hats and loose fitting clothes and long-sleeved shirts. Hike early in the day or late in the evening. Or plan the hike for a full moon and hike at night. Find shade during the heat of the day. The cooler the scout the less perspiration and the less chance of dehydration.
Posted by: oldranger

Re: Carrying Water - 06/24/10 09:27 PM

I would reiterate that a gallon a day is a minimum. Tweak conditions a bit and you can easily require more water.

A somewhat extreme example from SAR in southern Arizona. My partner and I started off around noon, hiking uphill on a steep south facing slope with a clear sky and full sun. We carried 2 and one/half gallons between us and hiked at a steady, deliberate pace. Our individual packs weighed a bit over forty pounds. By five PM we reached a water source which we knew was good. This was fortunate because we had consumed all our water in reaching this stream. In fact, we were dehydrated and drank deeply, refilling our containers. Continuing on, we encountered our victim, whose main problem aside from three fractures, was dehydration, although by this time we were above 7000 feet elevation in cooler temperatures. We were accustomed to these conditions and in fact I usually ran about four or five miles at noon in the summer in order to maintain acclimation.

All kinds of events can influence your water consumption - shade versus sunshine,talking versus remaining silent, and any kind of trip delay. A full brimmed hat, an early start, and a mid day siesta can all help you decrease your water usage.

Bottom line, I don't recall ever carrying too much water but I have taken too little more than a few times.
Posted by: Paul

Re: Carrying Water - 06/25/10 12:26 AM

I second the motion that a gallon a day per person is a minimum. A personal anecdote: I once walked across the Grand Canyon in a single long summer day - about 24 miles if I recall correctly, temperature at the bottom about 105 or so. I drank upwards of three gallons of water that day while hiking, and more afterwards. If I had had only one gallon I would have been in pretty bad shape by the end of the day. Fortunately I did not have to carry it all at once since there are water sources along the route.
Posted by: Steadman

Re: Carrying Water - 06/27/10 11:36 PM

Gallon milk jugs tend to leak IMHO.

Suggest 2L soda bottles if carrying. Light, cheap - rinse well first, obviously.
Posted by: Pika

Re: Carrying Water - 06/28/10 09:03 AM

The 1.4 gal bottles in which bleach is sold are rugged and relatively leak proof. They are about the size of a bear canister. Two of these will carry almost 3 gal of water. I have used them on trips in dry, remote parts of the Grand Canyon. Rinse well first. Of course, the water still weighs nearly 25 lb.
Posted by: ohiohiker

Re: Carrying Water - 07/02/10 12:19 PM

You and some others could hike in and cache some water a day or two before.

Maybe you could work on how the group gear is divided up so that some of the scouts can carry a little extra water for everyone, and everyone can cut some unnecessary items and carry more water for themselves.
Posted by: zecook

Re: Carrying Water - 07/05/10 08:51 AM

Thank you so much for the good options and suggestions. That is what I needed to know.