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Water in US deserts?
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Adam Kilpatrick
(oysters) - MLife

Locale: South Australia
Water in US deserts? on 01/21/2008 22:35:23 MST Print View

This is a broad question for me to try and get a feeler...

In the USA, what would be the maximum distance, anywhere, that one would walk where you would or could, not find a natural or human-induced water supply, if you were to do, say a Desert crossing? To make it easier, what is the longest distance you have walked or heard of US walkers/adventurers doing?

In the definition of water supply, go as far as including dodgy semi-permanent soaks/springs, and water supplies that require treatment by normal means (up to and including a really top line filter system like a Katadyn Pocket).

One day, when I get enough time, I want to work the remotest position in Australia from water. It will likely require alot of work though (alot of digitising of 1:250k topographic map features...once thats done its a relatively easy GIS procedure), and I'm guessing will be somewhere in either the Simpson, Great Victoria, Great Sandy, or Tirari Deserts, and will likely be in the range of 200-600km from any marked water source.



Scott Christy
(scott_christy) - F

Locale: Wydaho.
Long dry walking. on 01/30/2008 14:38:49 MST Print View

Depends on the year and conditions. Desert water is a blessedly ephemeral thing. Often to those traveling in the desert it appears that there is not water. Often it is there, but elusive. Not in nice pre-defined spots. It can be a dicey endeavor.

I've had to hike 20-30 miles for water before in the desert. Especially if you add in checking on differing 'potential' locations for water. On those days, where this is likely to be the situation in a dry year, the tricks are myriad. Yes, you must then carry more water. Yes, you can try to travel at night. Yes, you can avoid the hottest times of year in these places. These are a few of the tricks that will help. There are more.

Why are deserts places for mystics or searchers? As Craig Childs puts it, because of their "Secret Knowledge of Water."

Michael Skwarczek
(uberkatzen) - F

Locale: Sudamerica
water in the desert on 01/31/2008 21:59:22 MST Print View

"Why are deserts places for mystics or searchers? As Craig Childs puts it, because of their "Secret Knowledge of Water."

Well said Scott. I liked that.

My early camping years were spent in Joshua Tree NP, Ca, USA. Car camping with no real concern for water. But this Winter I trekked across the park and discovered a new relationship to the precious quantity on my person. UL backpacking opened my awareness to how much I need and what it means to carry that. In much of the Sierras I only pack .5L or 1L, knowing I've plenty of fresh water to find. But the desert challenges this and pushes your UL capabilities. I stationed water resupply, just one, it was a short trip. I consumed 2.25L a day, with cooking. And I only urinated once in the morning and once at night. Which tells me that I was hydrating efficiently alongside my exertion.

During a break, my bottle tipped and spilled an ounce or two of water. I watched it pool and drain with keen regret, but also with a profound respect and compassion toward this new relationship.

I've promised myself to spend more time there this Winter. And I'm going to explore its "secret knowledge".


Edited by uberkatzen on 01/31/2008 22:00:51 MST.

Jeremy Greene
(tippymcstagger) - F

Locale: North Texas
What water? on 04/23/2008 15:20:59 MDT Print View

In Big Bend or White Sands I don't do a summer half day hike without 2 liters. Unless you are sure of a source (and backup) plan to carry or cache what you need.

On the bright side, I get to eat fresh fruit and vegetables while backpacking without a perceived weight penalty. Got to carry the water somewhere.

...but this is a light forum, and I am open to learning about finding water.

Mireille Halley
(tinyscrafts) - F - MLife

Locale: So Cal
west desert on 05/11/2008 23:48:28 MDT Print View

I vote for the west desert of Utah.
Theres a spring at Fish Springs NWR and a few west and east of there. but to the North. I can't even think about where the nearest water is... oy vey!