Philmont Water

Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2000 00:11:08 -0500
From: "Jason A. Cotting" <>
Subject: Philmont water

I'm not working at Philmont this summer, so I don't know what they are saying now. In the past I always recomend that my crews drink 8-10 qts of water a day. The best recomendation came from health lodge to drink a quart an hour. This mainly pertains for each hour you are hiking. But you still need to drink water when you are in camp.

I have always been told that the human body can only absorb 1 cup of water every 15 minutes. (4 cups in a quart). So drinking a whole quart all at once doesn't do you much good. Don't take that info as gospel being that I'm no Biologist. It just makes sense.

What I would do is drink a quart at each meal. And take sips of water on the trail to stay hydrated. After a while you learn how to read your body's need for water. One person may not need as much as another. I usually only needed 4-6 qts a day. This included a quart at each meal. But that was for ME. Crews are told to drink alot of water because they will need it and there is no way to tell how much water each person will need. It is just better to be safe and tell them to drink as much as they can so that there will be less chance of dehydration.. You would be surprised at how many people get some form of dehydration at Philmont. And it is avoidable. I have had bad dehydration a few times in my career and it is not fun. The reason I got it was becuase I just didn't drink my water like I should have. My own fault. Being fully hydrated gives me more energy and makes getting up those mountains alot easier. You would be surprised how much of a difference it makes.

Participants need to be careful not to drink too much though. I had a friend this summer who was hiking in the Grand Canyon and he drank too much water one day, about 4 gallons (16 qts). Anyway, he had a seizure and had to be air evaced to Flagstaff. The docs said he had drunk too much water and flushed out all of his electrolytes and sodium. He also had a mild case of pnumonia (sp?) at the time and I'm sure that didn't help.

A few good things to remember about your water is this. Start out hydrated. Your Ranger will use the phrase "Clear and Copius". This describes your urination. It should be clear and lots of it. This means your body is getting enough water. Before you hit the trail in the morning, make sure you are hydrated. It is much more difficult to get rehydrated when you are not hydrated than to keep yourself at a good level. You also need to make sure that you drink your water smartly. Look at the map before you leave for the day and see how far you will be going and if there is any water stops along the way. You need to be able to ration your water so you don't run out. Anyone on the trek that goes from Sioux to Pueblano over Wilson's Mesa will get this lesson early. There's really no water that day except for a scummy pond and the streams at the beginning and ends of the day. Being only the 2nd trail day, it is a long day for participants and I have had a number of participants that run out or nearly out of water on that day.

I require my participants to carry atleast 3 quart capacity of water for each person, and I recomend 4. You need to be sure that you have atleast 2 containers for carrying your water. If you have just a 3qt bladder and it busts, then you have no way of carrying water. I always carry 4 qts with crews because there are times someone in the crew runs out and I don't want someone to go without. You should be able to easily hike from any destination or between water sources with 3 qts. If you are drinking a quart an hour like Health Lodge recomends, 2 qts will not be enough. I know I will catch flack from people who've been to Philmont on this issue, but I have seen too many people run out of water w/ only 2 qts and I have to give them some of mine.

When you carry your water bottles, find a place that YOU can get to them easily. People who put their bottles where they can not reach them (meaning they have to ask someone to get the bottle out for them) tend to get dehydrated more often bc/ they don't want to inconveinence someone to get their water. Also, if you have the pockets on the side like many internal frame packs have, don't put both water bottles out there. I have found that keeping only one water bottle out there allows you to put your other water inside your pack. This allows the water to stay cool instead of being exposed to the sun all day and getting warm. Cooler water, for me, is much more pleasing and I am more likely to drink more water like I should. Just make sure it doesn't leak inside your pack.

And one more thing. USE YOUR POLAR PURE!!!!!!! I got giardia last summer and let me tell you, it is no fun at all.

Jason A. Cotting
"Science has never drummed up quite as effective a tranquilizing agent as a sunny spring day" - W. Earl Hall

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