Drinking Water at Philmont
Date: Sun, 04 Aug 2002 22:59:37 -0400
From: John Sucher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [Philmont]: Was "Water Treatment"
I would like to make some comments on the discussion of water needs.
- Dehydration is and will always be a bigger problem than iatrogenic
hyponatremia. Here in the south particularly we are starting football
camps. We had several hospital visits and one rather severe admission
with kidney failure- may well leave life long repercussions. Last year
even at the pro level there was a death. We should know better, but it
happens every year.
- Hyponatremia can be but is rarely life threatening IF recognized
appropriately. Even doctors have often assumed that dehydration was the
problem and made the matter worse by treating with IV solutions. On the
trail look for even mild mental changes.
- The body has an amazing ability to correct the problems it
encounters. In this case given a huge free water overload, the kidneys
can produce up to 15 L of urine in a "normal" 70 kg person. (I stopped
being normal sized a while back). All of the cases of hyponatremia
leading to severe symptoms or death required someone to push fluids even
more than this. Yes, it can be done but it requires hours to do. See next.
- Philmont- Most treks are simply not in the category to produce this
problem. It requires several hours of CONTINUOUS and RIGOROUS exercise.
Yes, I've been there three times, last in 2000 with a crew of antelopes.
We hiked over a hundred miles and were always into our next camp by noon.
The only longer day was when we side hiked Baldy and even that without
packs was not that bad. Bottom line if you work the weather- get up early
and he as much as possible in the cool of the day, this should not be a
- "Knowing yourself"- Be very careful with this one as there are many
changes that can occur with altitude, hormonal changes, medications, "
minor" concurrent illnesses, thyroid status, quantity and quality of food
intake, temperature and humidity to name a few. One of the simplest that
is taught, and part of the reason for pushing water in the first place is
that thirst IS NOT a good indicator of water needs. It is true that as
you gain experience in a variety of settings that you will better be able
to interpret what your needs were, then put that in context with what
other changes may be going on.
- Decontamination- Here you are looking at systems that in some way
will take care of any nasties that are there. The first rule is always
dilution is the solution to pollution. This means that the more CLEAN
water you can use to wash and rinse will reduce the contaminant load-
whether viruses, giardia, or anything. If the part can be placed IN
boiling water and left there for long enough to heat the areas where the
critters are, this is best- requires at least 160 degrees. A follow up
rinse with a polar pure treated water would also help. If the
contamination were severe you may want to make a very concentrated
solution with your polar pure- 2 capfuls/pint to rinse with.
John Sucher, MD
SM, Troop 69
The content of this Web page was provided by
Please contact him
for more information.
This Web page is maintained by Selden Ball
at Wilson Lab.
Please send any comments or corrections to