Backpacking noob here:
I'm trying to reduce the amount of water I have to carry in my trips throughout the Red Desert in Southwest Wyoming. I do plan on caching when possible, but the fact is, there are already tons of water supplies all over the desert. Ponds, springs, streams, puddles, etc. I'd prefer to just carry a filter and plan trips to hit these spots, HOWEVER, I know that a significant amount of the water in the area is highly alkali or saline - but not all of it.
1. Is there any simple, lightweight way to test whether its salty or not (to a drinkable level)? Something like how ph strips work? Even some of the fast moving streams supposedly carry leached salts, but I think they might possibly be ok when its mostly snow runoff? Some rainwater puddles might be ok, but then othertimes they might have sucked the alkali minerals out of the dirt. How do I tell?
2. Will salt water mess up a filter like a Hiker Pro, etc? I know it won't make saltwater ok to drink, but I figure if I can get the nasty stuff out, then I can at least sip it to see if its worth drinking?
3. Most of these treasured desert water sources are going to be highly used by deer, elk, antelope, feral horses, and cattle. If it does turn out to be fresh enough water to drink, can I trust that the filter is going to get the bad stuff out? I'm sure theres alot of bad stuff in there...