Please don’t feed the bears

Black bearKeeping critters out of your food will make both you and the critters happier.  It’s not just bears that shouldn’t be fed, but mice, racoons, birds, squirrels, fox and possibly even mountain goats.  It’s been over 40 years since I lost anything to bears and I intend to keep it that way.

I see bears a lot when hiking in both Olympic and Rainier National Parks.  The encounters are typically non-threatening and we go our separate ways, but it is pretty clear that they are around.  I have actually had more problems with mice than bears.  Mice have chewed holes in a tent zipper and a “rodent proof” food bag.  So I try to keep a clean camp and carefully hang my food or store it in a bear canister. Continue reading

Clean water

Clean waterWe really did drink right out of streams, decades ago.  When the general practice of purifying drinking water started, we used iodine tablets or boiling.  The arrival of pumped filters was revolutionary.   Now many more choices of water purification are available, at much lighter trail weights.

As I focused on reducing my load, I switched from a pumped filter to Aqua Mira.  This is a two part chlorine dioxide water purification system.  You add the prescribed number of drops from vial A and vial B to a mixing cup.  You wait 5 minutes for the mixture to turn yellow and then add it to your water.  In 30 minutes the water is safe to drink, unless the water is really cold.  It is effective and low cost.  Two full bottles, with mixing cup weigh 3 oz. and cost under $15.  It will last for a season or more – 30 gallons.  You can save even more weight by buying two very small dropper bottles to carry instead the full sized ones.  I used this system for a season, but didn’t like the counting of drops, especially when treating 3 quart batches and then sitting around for 5 minutes for the mixture to activate.

I found an equivalent product in tablet form, now sold as MSR Aquatabs.  One very small tablet will purify up to 2 quarts of clean water.  Continue reading