Hydrate or die

Water is the most important factor on a Half Dome hike. You do not want to skimp on drinking. Dehydration will sap your energy and cause you to think irrationally. It can also have severe medical consequences. You will see unprepared hikers with one or two 12-ounce bottles of water. When I ask why, they reply “I don’t drink much.” Why? Your choices are two: (1) bring all the water you’ll need or (2) treat the water along the trail.

With alternative (1), you’ll need to haul up a LOT of water. How much should you bring? I weigh about two hundred pounds, and I drink seven quarts all day.

I don’t like alternative (1), because water is heavy—about two pounds per quart. Why carry this extra weight for all those miles? And how do you carry it? In a backpack, this weight would really cut into your shoulders, and your back will be soaked with sweat. Water weighs 2 pounds per quart. The bladder-type backpack systems are popular, but I don’t like them because you’ll have a lot of weight on your back. You are limited as to how much water you can carry. The biggest bladder I’ve seen only holds 3 quarts. After several hours, your lower back may begin to ache. When you carry all your water, it will get warm from your body and the atmosphere. A major concern is that you will begin to “ration” it by sipping instead of hydrating. Two thumbs up for alternative (2): treat the water.

In addition to the issue of having water is the problem of removing impurities. The three major types of pathogenic microorganisms and their sizes are:
1. Protozoans: Amoeobiasis, Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium: 1-15 microns
2. Bacteria: E-coli, Salmonella, Cholera: 0.2 – 5 microns
3. Viruses: Hepatitis A, Norwalk Virus, Rotavirus, Poliovirus: 0.02 – 0.2 microns

These can be negated chemically, mechanically or with Ultra-violet light. (Boiling is not feasible unless you are camping.)

We’ll continue this discussion in my next entry.


Unrelated thought worth quoting: “Pick up the phone, I’m always home. Call me anytime. Just ring three-six-two-four-three-six. I lead a life of crime. Dirty deeds and they’re done dirt cheap.” – AC/DC

*MrHalfDome™ – Rick Deutsch – www.HikeHalfDome.com
One Best Hike: Yosemite’s Half Dome

About Mr Half Dome - Rick Deutsch

Mr Half Dome. Has written the only half dome hiking guide, One Best Hike: Yosemite's Half Dome. Has hiked it 31 times to day. Lives in San Jose, CA Available for presentations. Carpe Diem Experience, LLC
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One Response to Hydrate or die

  1. Maureen L says:

    Another reason to stay well-hydrated in Yosemite:

    Your body is hard at work helping you adjust to higher altitude. To set you up to breathe more, the ph of your blood gets altered. Our kidneys are at work; urinary output needs to get increased to facilitate the adjustment.

    Although hiking Half Dome or along the Tioga Road isn’t quite the same elevation change as Vogelsang or Mount Dana, some altitude adjustment change is still probably happening.

    Giving your body the fluid it needs to help you thrive at 4,000 feet and higher.

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