Mni Wiconi – Water is Life

All through the year I’ve followed the struggle of those brave souls at Standing Rock, battling to protect their precious water supply from those that would put profit before people. I’ve shared their updates and wished I could do more.

I’ve been thinking a lot about them and about water since starting the AT.  We are so spoiled in the West, with clean water literally on tap. And though of course I knew this intellectually, being out on the trail, collecting your water from streams and filtering it twice daily or more, brings the point home on a far more visceral level.


Waking in the morning every day and factoring in how much water you’ll need to carry to get you to the next water supply, how much you’ll need for cooking and washing up your pots, how much you’ll drink, and balancing that against how much weight you want to carry becomes a massively important part of your life. And I appreciate it so much more than ever before.


It turns out I drink about a litre every 4 miles or so, which is way more than I’d anticipated. We have bladder packs which can hold about 3 litres, but that’s bloody heavy, so I usually carry 2 litres.

Bringing the point home in yet another way, recently there’s been an outbreak of gastroenteritis on the trail, a fair few people have been ill, a hostel was closed for a while and rangers roam about advising people to wash their hands properly.  We heard that the outbreak was traced back to one area where people were toileting too close to the water supply stream.  And some poor souls were apparently hospitalised for dehydration – perhaps because once they became ill they were reluctant to drink more of the suspect water.

Water is indeed life. And my appreciation for beautiful, clean, mountain water now knows no bounds.


And tap water suddenly tastes disgusting!

Back in my own country we too are fighting to protect our water, to keep fracking companies from polluting groundwater in pursuit of profit.  I feel hugely indebted to those fighting all over the world on behalf of all of us to protect this most precious of resources, and one thing that comes out of this adventure will be my commitment to do more to support their efforts.


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