Day 159 – The Water Filter Hack Sawyer Doesn’t Want You To Know About

The sun woke me from my TBC around 7. The group has been calling their sleeping bags a ‘Toasty Bitch Cocoon.’ I was fully happy and warm in mine and didn’t want to move. It was a chilly morning. I sat up and ate breakfast from the comfort of my TBC. Our leisurely pace of packing continued this morning and we were on trail a little after 8AM.

The day started with a cruise-y downhill for about 4 miles to a stream crossing. It was wide but shallow, barely deeper than the knees. The lack of rain for 48 hours has brought down the rivers down to manageable and much safer levels. Crossing this one was very easy.

The trail was a slow and steady incline for several miles. I hiked with Hays, Feral Goat, Orphan, and Wiki. I stopped at a shelter before the only climb for the day and last hill of any challenge or significance until Katahdin. We started up the sawtooth-shaped mountain towards White Cap.

First sawtooth was Gulf Hagar Mountain, then West Peak, Hay Mountain, and lastly White Cap. While hiking, I heard a strong breeze blowing through the mountains. It was a natural sound, and it kept growing louder and more shrill with a high pitch. I came to realize after a few moments that it was not wind, and in fact an airplane. I heard several more over the next hour and found it odd, that in the wilderness of all places, I would hear the first plane I’ve heard in perhaps a month. Maybe it was foreshadowing the return to civilization I will soon be experiencing.

I was hoping for a water source at some point along the way, but one never came. Partched after only a few miles, I had to go a total of 6.5 miles before I got to the next shelter with water. It was reminiscent of my climb up to the Mizpah Spring Hut in the Whites with its 5-mile stretch of climb without water. I was able to refill at Logan Brook Lean-to and downed a liter quickly.

Purple Pioneer was able to help revive my Saywer water filter. It had been filtering water at a snails pace. She hit it several times against a log to dislodge filtrate that had been trapped. Each back flush after resulted in flushing out brown discolored material. After 6 or 7 rounds of beating the Sawyer against the log it was working again like a champ. I would have never thought to do that. Did anyone else know about this trick?

We hiked 4 more miles to East Branch lean-to. Along the way we passed a group who had started a campfire. We looked at each other with the same idea, a campfire was needed tonight. A campfire was had, and we were fortunate when we arrived it was already going. We met a group of early 20’s section hikers from PA. They’re here doing a section hike of the 100 mile wilderness.

We talked with them and answered all their questions for close to an hour. After close to 2,200 miles, it’s comical to see some of the first-try hiking efforts being made. However, I’m sure I was just as naive when I started this journey as well. It’s odd to consider yourself a near-expert at something at the end of your first try. But when that ‘try’ is a 5-6 month process, yeah, you’re going to be pretty good and knowledgeable by the end of it.

We warmed ourselves by the fire and ate dinner with the group. Feeling good getting all the mountains out of the way, the trail looks very flat from here out. We’re looking to do big miles to get to Katahdin quickly. It might be an early day tomorrow so I’m off.

Stow away in my pack for Day 160 on the Appalachian Trail

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 3

  • Todd Blackley : Sep 29th

    Hum, it may not be the best idea to give your sawyer (or any brand) of water filter a knock to clear it up. The fine filter tubes can be damaged or broken when exposed to sharp hits. This will allow more water to past thru the filter but it become less of a filter and more of a hallow tube. From Sawyers page where it describes the internal filter :

    “The Sawyer Hollow Fiber Membrane Filters are composed of tiny “U” shaped micro tubes that allow water to enter into their core through tiny micro pores on the side walls of the tubes. The pores on our filters and purifiers are so small that no bacteria such as E. Coli, cholera, or typhoid can pass through.”

  • Robb : Sep 29th

    I’ve done some ‘banging’ on the side of the filter to help clear it when backflushing. It’s helped significantly but I’ve heard you have to be careful not to be too forceful. You might want to look up Filter Integrity Test and run that. That’s at least what I do… thankfully, I’ve been able to get my filters to flow acceptably (or just replaced them as they weren’t too expensive in the first place).

  • CB : Sep 29th

    If Purple Pioneer said to bang on it then bang on it! These Sawyer bros’ comments should be taken with a grain of salt.
    Hard to believe you’re within smelling distance of Katahdin! Well done!


What Do You Think?