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Published on August 3rd, 2009 | by greenranger

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Mt. Whitney Water and Pollution

It’s not that Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the Lower 48, needs any more publicity. After all, about 30,000 hikers annually make the trek up to the thin air of 14, 496 feet. People who secure even a day use wilderness permit (not much fun making the ascent in one day) through the Mt. Whitney lottery system often feel better than if they had won a state run lottery where they actually win money.

On a recent (this past week) stroll up into the thin air of Mt. Whitney my hiking buddies and I discovered some things. While most hikers have courtesy and smarts to be as conscious as possible toward environmental stewardship it always happens where a few conventionally grown apples ruin it for everyone else. Case in point being at the last reliable water source (High Camp Tarn) before the final push up the 99 switchbacks to reach the summit what did we spy? A dazzling reflection of the various peaks? Yes. A plethora of discarded Mountain House packages resting on the floor of the tarn. You bet. Not only did these packages tarnish the beauty of the scenic watering hole but even forgetting esthetics, who wants to drink water from a polluted lake before a major climb?

Speaking of water, where would we have been without a trusty water filter? Up you know creek but we tried this new Clear2Go portable water bottle with filter which the company gave out as free samples in Golden Gate Park a few months ago for anyone who brought four plastic bottles. What a deal? Saving landfill space and getting a filter that removes 99.9 % of Guardia and cryptosporidium with the NASA-derived technology. I don’t think this filter will help you get to Mars but the water filtered tasted great and we’re glad to report that we survived drinking water from the great open spaces.



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3 Responses to Mt. Whitney Water and Pollution

  1. Hiking Lady says:

    This is so sad! I’m headed up Whitney in September. People really need to learn Leave No Trace principles…
    Thanks for sharing your observations in this article.

  2. Thanks for the post. I don’t understand. You climb a mountain and leave trash? Disgusting. I would definitely bring a portable water purifier with me on that climb or any other climb.

  3. jimmmy says:

    Not defending the potential litterers. However it may be plausible that with the high winds that are always present that the trash left their good intentioned campsite and ended up where the winds took them. I can see alot of trash unintentionally blowing away during 40-60 mph gusts.

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