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  1. #1
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    Default Water in the winter months

    Hey guys, I'm on winter break from school and have been wanting to thru-hike the park sometime between now and Jan. (weather permitting). I know that all of the waysides and other places offering food are closed for the season, but I haven't been able to find any good general info on how the water sources are this time of year throughout the park. I know that some of the stops have water fountains. Any info would be appreciated!

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    We haven't finished SNP yet, but each time we've been up there has been in the off-season, November to February. We had no problem finding enough water, though sometimes it was icy-cold.

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    We had no problem finding enough water, though sometimes it was icy-cold.


    i dont hike in SNP, but i hike in the smokys and i have found the same results with finding water...

    one thing to keep in mind----make sure that your filter does not freeze up.....

    that was my biggest issue a couple of years ago when it got in the teens and i wasnt able to use filter til it unfroze........and i had it under my shirt while hiking in order to generate heat.....

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    Thanks for the quick reply illabelle! That's good to hear

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    i dont hike in SNP, but i hike in the smokys and i have found the same results with finding water...

    one thing to keep in mind----make sure that your filter does not freeze up.....

    that was my biggest issue a couple of years ago when it got in the teens and i wasnt able to use filter til it unfroze........and i had it under my shirt while hiking in order to generate heat.....
    TNhiker, I had thought about that... since I use the Sawyer Mini (haven't gotten around to picking up something that may be better in freezing temps) I was planning on boiling the water to purify it

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    I live near the northern section of the park, and it hasn't been cold enough to freeze any water sources. It looks fairly mild for the next couple of weeks, so water shouldn't be a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thestin View Post
    I live near the northern section of the park, and it hasn't been cold enough to freeze any water sources. It looks fairly mild for the next couple of weeks, so water shouldn't be a problem.
    I live fairly close as well and have hiked in the park (mostly central and northern section) quite a few times in the winter and have never had any water issues. The shelters up north (Byrds Nest, Pass Mountain, and Gravel Springs) all have reliable water. Tom Floyd can be iffy but I've always been able to scoop. Enjoy. Winter in SNP is way underrated.

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    I was just up there a week ago and all streams and springs were flowing like it was spring snow melt. water is there wherever indicated.

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    Plenty water in the park after what seems like almost a week of rain. Hiked this weekend and the streams are flowing real good.
    Getting lost is a way to find yourself.

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    Gravel springs was flowing strongly on Sunday.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by showtime_ View Post
    ... since I use the Sawyer Mini...
    Freezing weather is Sawyer Kryptonite.

    If a Sawyer filter has EVER been used, and it is subject to freezing temperatures, you have to assume the filter is damaged and useless.


    Both the Sawyer Mini and Squeeze filters are basically just a set of perforated hollow tubes bent in a U shape. The dirty water enters the tubes at the end of the U. The perforations along the length of the tubes are only 0.1 micros in diameter. Because all bacteria is larger than 0.1 microns, water coming out of the perforations can't contain any bacteria. That's the source of your "clean" water.

    Once water enters these tiny tubes, there is just no way to get ALL the water back out. If any of that remaining water freezes, it will expand and crack the tubes. Those cracks will be larger than 0.1 micro and bacteria will be allowed to pass through the filter... and there is no field test you can do to determine if the tubes have become cracked.

    So if you are travelling in cold weather, you've got to ensure the Sawyer is never subjected to freezing temperatures.

    Many other filters can also be damaged by freezing temperatures. I know the MSR HyperFlow is designed similar to the Sawyer (the HyperFlow is sort of like a Sawyer with a pump), and the MSR MiniWorks warns that the ceramic filter element can crack if water remains in the filter and subject to freezing conditions.

    While there might be others, the only filter I know to be safe after exposure to freezing conditions is the MSR SweetWater filter. The instructions for this filter even suggest long term storage should be in a freezer to prevent bacteria growth.

    Of course non-filter methods of water treatment are also possible in freezing conditions, such as SteriPen and AquaMarina.

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    I always use aqua mira in colder weather. I tried to use my Sawyer once and got sick of sleeping with it and carrying it in my pockets during the day.

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    Chemical treatments like aqua mira take much longer to work in cold temps.
    UV treatment (Steripen) works in cold weather if it has lithium batteries; you might have to warm it up if it's below 0F.
    Boiling always works well if you don't mind the time and fuel to do it.

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    I believe the time requirement goes up from 15 to 30 minutes but I'd have to check. Not a big deal for me, but does imply need to carry a bit more water unless treating in camp only.

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    I'm gonna guess that bacteria cell walls will burst upon freezing. But if only getting cold but not freeze, they will go dormant and will reactivate in your gut. Again just guessing. Would love to hear from somebody that knows. Sawyer filters use the same tubing as dialysis filters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thestin View Post
    I live near the northern section of the park, and it hasn't been cold enough to freeze any water sources. It looks fairly mild for the next couple of weeks, so water shouldn't be a problem.
    No filters work in freezing conditions. Not only that but alcohol stoves work poorly and cannister stoves, unless they are specially designed, don't work at all. You can take a white gas stove like the MSR Simmerlite or XGK and use it to boil water. Take along a couple of those "too heavy to carry in summer" Nalgene wide-mouth bottles and fill them with boiling water. Cover with a spare sock and take them to bed with you to help quickly warm the sleeping bag. By the morning the water will be lukewarm and quickly heat up for coffee and hot oatmeal. Enjoy your winter trip!
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeezebox View Post
    I'm gonna guess that bacteria cell walls will burst upon freezing. But if only getting cold but not freeze, they will go dormant and will reactivate in your gut. Again just guessing. Would love to hear from somebody that knows. Sawyer filters use the same tubing as dialysis filters.
    Freezing doesn't kill all bacteria. There have been e. coli outbreaks from frozen foods.
    http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/...nd-other-germs

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