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#27824 - 09/18/12 02:43 PM Water Sources
Chicagocwright Offline


Registered: 09/05/12
Posts: 172
Loc: Alaska
Can anyone confirm the availability of water at Switchback 23 in this low and late water season?

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#27825 - 09/18/12 03:06 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Chicagocwright]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
'Twas running fine on 9/8. I stopped and had breakfast there about 9:30 AM. It was easy to dip my cup and drink.

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#27826 - 09/18/12 03:10 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Steve C]
Chicagocwright Offline


Registered: 09/05/12
Posts: 172
Loc: Alaska
Thanks much. This trip I'm leaving my unused water filter at home and replacing it with extra warm clothing (just in case). If I stall out again, I am going to bunker down for a while and try to wait it out this time.

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#27827 - 09/18/12 03:16 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Chicagocwright]
RadGnar Offline


Registered: 04/16/12
Posts: 26
Loc: Chino, Ca
So no filter necessary at this location? Even with the amount of traffic and WAG bags laying around?

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#27828 - 09/18/12 04:27 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: RadGnar]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
RadGnar, you're certainly welcome to filter or treat if you want to, but some of us don't. That spring is fed by snow melt from high above the switchbacks, in an area nobody travels. There is a similar spring just east of Outpost Camp, right by the trail.

Actually, I'll dip and drink from most streams along the Main Trail. The one place I draw the line is the pond at Trail Camp. I walk over to the inlet and dip from that stream.

You can find links to more reading under "Water discussions" in the "Links to important Whitney information" post, and decide for yourself.

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#27834 - 09/18/12 10:38 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Steve C]
RadGnar Offline


Registered: 04/16/12
Posts: 26
Loc: Chino, Ca
Very interesting readings. Thank you for the information and time to respond. On my last attempt at Whitney, a ranger pointed me to the creek flowing straight out of the mountain by outpost camp and said he never filters there. So I didn't either and was fine. I would be a bit more hesitant about the switch back water but it sounds like many people drink it and are fine. Like always, I will be wise about the look and area prior to drinking it. Excited for some fresh mountain water.

Thanks again,
Cody

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#27863 - 09/20/12 11:05 AM Re: Water Sources [Re: Steve C]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Steve C
That spring is fed by snow melt from high above the switchbacks, in an area nobody travels.


Agree about the great quality of the water, but do you think it is true that it comes from snow melt above SB 23? Is there any snow up there to melt any more? I always assumed that it came from deep down under since the water still flows long after the snow above it has melted.


One other thought, though. Steve was there at 9:30 am. At this time of the year, you may find it frozen earlier than that.

Brent N

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#27870 - 09/20/12 01:36 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Brent N]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7556
Loc: Fresno, CA
> but do you think it is true that it comes from snow melt above SB 23? Is there any snow up there to melt any more? I always assumed that it came from deep down under since the water still flows long after the snow above it has melted.

Good point, Brent N. I don't think there is any snow left higher up, so the water has to be flowing from an aquifer that must have more of a long-term storage capacity, and so probably results from snow melt from a wider area, too. That being the case, the water is most likely filtered through lots of underground layers, so should be about as pure as it can be.

It would be interesting to see a comparison analysis of this water and the Crystal Geyser water that is bottled in Olancha along the Hwy 395.

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#27871 - 09/20/12 01:50 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Brent N]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 830
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Try this experiment at home. Place a sponge on a couple of glasses. Place an ice cube on the sponge. Keep replacing the ice cubes. A sponge can only hold so much water. Water will eventually fall into the glasses or onto the countertop. Kids, don't do this on the floor.

Think of any mountain as a big, saturated sponge. As the snow melts (or rain falls), the water is absorbed into the rock. The water then collects in cavities/chambers in the rock. When these chambers fill up, the water has to go somewhere. It seeks the path of least resistance.

The water at the spring in Outpost Camp is the same water flowing down from SB23 and other snowmelt. If you notice the outlet at the OC spring, it is rich in minerals which the looks like rust due to the dissolved minerals.

The water you may be collecting at SB23 could be from snowmelt years and years ago. You could be standing next to (possibly beneath) a hidden reservoir larger than Crowley Lake or even Lake Tahoe. Just hope the "dam" doesn't break.

The chances of SB23 ever running dry is highly unlikely since that water could come from anywhere in the Sierra. Yes, it will freeze, but it will not run dry.

While at SB23 you can say that you are standing at the "headwaters" of Lone Pine Creek that flows down Whitney Portal Falls.

Now, do not rely on SB23 as a water source this time of year. The sun is low in the horizon meaning less direct sunlight.
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#27873 - 09/20/12 03:05 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: + @ti2d]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1559
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Fascinating hydrology. And here I always thought it was from the runoff channel about 100 feet directly up slope, from that big cirque above that. I guess that water must go somewhere else.


Edited by saltydog (09/20/12 03:23 PM)
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#27952 - 09/23/12 05:13 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Brent N]
VersatileFred Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 130
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Brent N
Is there any snow up there to melt any more?

When I was up there a month ago, there was still snow in the canyon above switchback 27 (though it could be 29 or 31). That is where the trail heads west for a ways and transitions over to the cliff face that includes the cables (if you look at Wayne Pyle's map). The lower part of that canyon faces north and is somewhat protected from the sun.

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#27955 - 09/24/12 06:20 AM Re: Water Sources [Re: VersatileFred]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1559
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Originally Posted By: VersatileFred
Originally Posted By: Brent N
Is there any snow up there to melt any more?

When I was up there a month ago, there was still snow in the canyon above switchback 27 (though it could be 29 or 31). That is where the trail heads west for a ways and transitions over to the cliff face that includes the cables (if you look at Wayne Pyle's map). The lower part of that canyon faces north and is somewhat protected from the sun.

Exactly what I was referring to, in my semi sarcasm, responding to speculations such as that the water can come "from anywhere n the Sierra" and that the mountain is a big sponge with cavities and chambers and such. I am pretty sure that SB23 is just the emergence of the runoff from immediately above it from relatively short run at very shallow depth. As I recall, the inlet stream at Trail Camp is similar, in that it emerges (from a moraine?) a short distance up hill from that pond. I suspect that most springs in the Sierra are like this, as soil is shallow to non-existent and bedrock is solid.

Notable exceptions would be hot springs, such as at Kern and MTR, and some cold springs such as possibly the Outpost Camp spring.

Nothing mysterious about SB23: pretty sure its direct runoff from the north facing features directly above it.
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#27963 - 09/24/12 10:54 AM Re: Water Sources [Re: + @ti2d]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Yes, the interior of the Sierra Nevada range is like a huge sponge, soaking up water, which comes out much later as springs and lower elevation ground-water. Yes, there are often underground rivers and lakes. This is typical of granitic mountain ranges.

When I worked at the Pine Creek tungsten mine (near Bishop) one of our major problems underground was the constant flow of water in the form of small rivers and seepage. We had to wear rubber rain suits, rubber boots, and hard-hats. In the early years of operation, the crews sometimes had to use rubber rafts to get around in some locations. The train that carried workers underground (2 1/2 miles inside Wheeler Ridge) used inclosed cars to protect the crews from the waterfalls as the train moved deeper into the mountain!

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#27968 - 09/24/12 11:11 AM Re: Water Sources [Re: Chicagocwright]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Originally Posted By: Chicagocwright
Can anyone confirm the availability of water at Switchback 23 in this low and late water season?


Someone reported on the WPSW that a few days ago, switchback 23 was frozen. I'm hiking the main trail on the 10th through the 12th. I'll fill up before I hit the switchbacks.

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#27974 - 09/24/12 12:47 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Bob West]
dbd Offline


Registered: 11/09/09
Posts: 208
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Bob West
Yes, the interior of the Sierra Nevada range is like a huge sponge, soaking up water, which comes out much later as springs and lower elevation ground-water. Yes, there are often underground rivers and lakes. This is typical of granitic mountain ranges.
...


It is more typical of sedimentary rock and metamorphosed sedimentary rock such as the example you give of the Pine Creek mine.

Dale B. Dalrymple

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#27979 - 09/24/12 01:26 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Brent N]
John Sims Offline


Registered: 04/20/12
Posts: 542
Loc: Sunnyvale, California
Brent N wrote:
> Someone reported on the WPSW that a few days ago, switchback 23 was frozen.

I came down the main trail on Thursday, Sept. 20th ~3:00 PM, and filled up on the uppermost switchback in this area. No problem, the water is flowing nicely. I also observed even higher flow rates at the next two or three switchbacks as I descended. I cannot imagine that it has dried or even frozen up.
John

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#27980 - 09/24/12 01:35 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: dbd]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Pickey, pickey. But yes, you are more or less correct. I used the term granitic in a general sense. I should have referred to it as a hard-rock mine. Perhaps this description of the Pine Creek mine tungsten skarns will be more to your liking:

The Pine Creek mine, located 27 km west of Bishop, California, contains scheelite-bearing skarns found at and near the contacts between a septum of Paleozoic metasedimentary rocks and a mid-Cretaceous quartz monzonite pluton. Underground and surface mapping and drill core logging have suggested that skarn formation and accompanying metal deposition should be characterized as a series of events over a range in temperatures overprinting several different rock types. Metamorphism caused the formation of barren, iron-poor calc-silicate marbles and hornfelses, which were subsequently replaced by iron-rich calc-silicate and ore minerals during metasomatism. High-temperature metasomatism was characterized by the formation of garnet-quartz, garnet-pyroxene, and idocrase-wollastonite-pyroxene zones from marble; by pyroxene-plagioclase + or - garnet skarns from biotite and calc-silicate hornfels; and by pyroxene-plagioclase-quartz rock from quartz monzonite. These high-temperature assemblages were locally over-printed by hydrosilicate alteration characterized by biotiteoplagioclase-magnetite replacement of garnet, amphibole-quartz-chalcopyrite + or - calcite (epidote) replacement of garnet-pyroxene (plagioclase) skarn, and calcite-quartz-epidote-chlorite-fiuorite replacement of wollastonite-idocrase. Contemporaneous alteration of quartz monzonite comprised quartz-biotite-chalco-pyrite veins and locally pervasive biotitization. The latest, lowest temperature alteration con-sisted of vertical pipes of quartz-calcite-zeolite, which cut and altered all other rock types.Patterns of ore deposition were intimately tied to original lithologies and alteration types. Initial scheelite deposition accompanied high-temperature metasomatism of marble but not of hornfels or quartz monzonite. In the early-formed skarn, scheelite is concentrated toward the marble replacement front and depleted away from marble. Molybdenite is concentrated in quartz-rich masses near intrusive contacts and in quartz-garnet veins cutting across metaso-matized hornfels. Scheelite was remobilized and deposited in association with hydrosilicate alteration of skarn and hornfels. Copper was deposited with hydrosilicate alteration, particularly in association with amphibole-quartz calcite replacement of garnet-pyroxene skarn. The sequence of events inferred at Pine Creek appears to be similar to those found in other tungsten skarns from around the world.

The Pine Creek mine contains scheelite, and the Brown Stone mine across Pine Creek contains wolframite,and a lot of other hard stuff. If you want the definitions of those two kinds of tungsten...look them up. Okay?


Edited by Bob West (09/24/12 01:38 PM)

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#27986 - 09/24/12 05:42 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Bob West]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1559
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Doesn't sound so picky to me, to distinguish between sedimentary/metamorphic sedimentary and granitic. Especially in a skarn formation, which will tend to collect a lot of water at the granitic/metamorphic contact zone, which appears to be the case at Pine Creek. ("skarns found at and near the contacts between a septum of Paleozoic metasedimentary rocks and a mid-Cretaceous quartz monzonite pluton"). Most of the Sierra (Including the Whitney trail area) is not like this, but is truly granitic and a lot less porous than your mine experience suggests. Sure there are cracks and fissures, but the suggestion of "underground lakes and rivers" can be misleading to those who may visualize these as massive bodies of pure water, like regular rivers and lakes only in big caves. Even areas that are more sponge like, these aquifers are basically saturated rock, or very solid rock with small discrete fissures and cracks, more like cracked pottery than either a sponge or a lake. I would say that the truly granitic nature of the Sierra means that the vast majority of the water is on or near the surface, especially at the higher elevation such as at SB23, and that the groundwater emerges if at all for the most part at much lower elevations, not locally.

In other words, deep source springs (maybe OC?) are pretty rare, and most springs we find, are very shallow and local.

In any event as for SB23, the fact that it can freeze in a hard frost indicates that it does not originate very far below the surface, where temperatures would be a pretty steady mid fifties, but on or just under the surface, where soil temps pretty much go up and down with air temps.
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#28000 - 09/25/12 07:49 AM Re: Water Sources [Re: saltydog]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
Aside from all this techno-babble, the fact remains that there is ample water in the Sierra Nevada range for hikers; yah just might have tah dig for it. So carry a shovel! LOL

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#28022 - 09/25/12 02:38 PM Re: Water Sources [Re: Bob West]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1559
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
One man's techno-babble is another's fact grin

Yep. Lakes and streams everywhere, no doubt about it, one of its greatest attractions.
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