I’ve heard enough horror stories to reject any water taken straight from the creek. I’ve had friends incapacitated for days on end by the giardia bug that rejects, projectile-style, any food or drink that dares enter the body. ‘Purify, purify, purify’ has been pounded into my head during so many backpacking trips and outdoor leadership training sessions that I can fix a broken water filter with my eyes closed. That’s why, when a friend assured me on a hike that Paine water is safe from it’s source, my first reaction was ‘Whaaa? No way! That goes against everything I stand for!’
But, as I stood in front of a mountain waterfall sipping a Nalgene of water taken from the bathroom sink at work, I grew tempted by the clear, cool H2O flowing by my feet.
Then, I did something unthinkable. I poured out my carefully chlorinated sink water, submersed my bottle in the creek until no more bubbles rose to the surface — and, without taking any precautions whatsoever, took several long, deep gulps.
After that, I waited. I waited through the afternoon and evening and into the next three weeks for some sign that what I had done was a really, really bad idea. But a sign never came.
My conclusion: Paine water really is safe to drink from its source. And, it’s damn delicious.