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Water source information for all the 14ers

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby Liquid Shadow » Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:12 pm

This is just an idea that I had: wouldn't it be immensely helpful if we compile a list of all the water sources on all the 14ers? Planning on how much water to bring has always been a guessing game for me and I always bring way too much.

I think it would be great if we compile a list of rivers, creeks, lakes and snowfields on all the 14ers, and their locations along the trails. Also their drinkability (such as the metal-laden La Plata Peak).

What do you guys think?

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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby SilverLynx » Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:36 pm

I think that is a great idea. It would be very helpful for people when planning where to camp so they know where they can make stops with a water filter and choose a water source with optimal quality (less/no contamination from livestock, minimal heavy metals). I'd like to see this.
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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby TallGrass » Sun Apr 07, 2013 4:48 pm

"rivers, creeks, lakes"

Isn't that what map's blue lines and circles indicate? :-k Part of your 10Es?

"snowfields"

Can change yearly, seasonally, usually detectable in the field by looking for white...

"drinkability (such as the metal-laden La Plata Peak)."

I would only note known-bad or known-questionable, kind of like theories can be proven false but never true. Water is only as safe as the last pika that $#!* upstream.

"their locations along the trails."

Also fluctuates. Could lead to a false sense of (water) security. At the Bells the past season, Crater "Lake" was more like a mud hole. If you were banking on it for water...

I use maps to get an idea of possibilities, the observe for telltales: sound (running water), valleys/creases that collect and funnel melt and drainage, line of trees following an otherwise barren contour (trees need more water than grass, bushes), looking uphill for possible contaminants (mines, grazing areas, colorful rock, etc.), what's growing (or isn't) by or in the water, and so on.

Maybe some do's and don'ts, tips, what to look out for and so on could be added to the FAQ or tips page? Caveat bibentis?
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby MonGoose » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:14 pm

I tend to agree with Tallgrass that many of the water conditions are extremely variable depending on the time of year, the amount of recent precipitation and the previous winter's snow pack.

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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby Tory Wells » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:20 pm

There is already a list, as Tallgrass pointed out: it's called a topo map.

Seriously, do we want all possible variables to be eliminated for us? Aren't the 14ers already easy enough?
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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby Kiefer » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:45 pm

Gonna have to agree with mongoose and Tallgrass.
This doesn't even come close as being a good idea. Do you have any idea how insanely large of a database
this would entail?
  • Water sources aren't reliable year after year
  • Yearly precipitation isn't reliable
  • Silt & sediment deposition isn't predictable.
  • Overflow from mines (heavy metals) during springmelt isn't predictable
  • Animals dying within a few feet of a water source isn't predictable (eewww :-& )

And like Tory says, I'm sure there's a TON of people out there tired of others trying to make
the wilderness more, "Disney-friendly."
It's bad enough that the wilderness isn't 'wild' anymore. :( --at least in Colorado
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Experience, is the knowledge of knowing what to do when one makes a mistake and wisdom,
stems from the changes we go through while learning from those mistakes."

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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby Liquid Shadow » Sun Apr 07, 2013 5:57 pm

Forget I said anything then :-&

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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby screeman57 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 6:53 pm

Gonna have to disagree with the naysayers above--it's a very good suggestion. And as to the "Disney" content--give me a break! Is it "Disney-fying" to suggest wearing a helmet when scrambling, or having links to the weather? Do you guys check the CAIC forecast before going out?

And of course the water quality varies (duh), and it wouldn't be reasonable to post regular or even seasonal updates. BUT-the water quality issues are consistent enough that there's a statewide survey being conducted, generalizing the mineral content of all of the basins. It would be helpful for people to know about areas that are generally high in metals (Matterhorn Creek, for example) so they can plan accordingly.

It goes without saying that everyone should assume biological contaminants--I assume that was not the focus of the OP?
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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby Liquid Shadow » Sun Apr 07, 2013 7:18 pm

screeman57 wrote:It goes without saying that everyone should assume biological contaminants--I assume that was not the focus of the OP?


You got it. :-D

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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby MountainHiker » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:45 pm

What might be good would be a few tips for typical backpack routes and some of the longer days. As for all the fourteeners, I don’t think it wise to be drinking off the land on most day hikes when you can bring water of known purity with you.
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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby Beto » Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:58 pm

Great idea. Seems right in line with trailhead road conditions, cell phone coverage areas, avy conditions and hourglass conditions, each of which has a place here. I'll take all the help I can get reducing my pack weight.

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Re: Water source information for all the 14ers

Postby Monster5 » Sun Apr 07, 2013 11:08 pm

TallGrass wrote:Isn't that what map's blue lines and circles indicate? :-k Part of your 10Es?


This. More practice with topo maps wouldn't hurt most people here.

MountainHiker wrote:What might be good would be a few tips for typical backpack routes and some of the longer days...


Sounds like a good compromise in the route description notes (tacking on notes 'bout heavy metal or contaminated areas too perhaps). Anything further is a bit silly and uber Disney-ing/hand-holding/coddling/internet-wiping.

And no, I don't think the basic human necessity to locate, evaluate, and drink water can be compared to deciding on a helmet or trailhead conditions.

Not to mention the liability involved in internet-based water evaluations/assessments from Wikipedia.edu experts.
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