One might notice the extremely hot weather and surrounding desert-like terrain while driving across US Highway 395 on a typical summer day. Make a turn westward onto Whitney Portal Rd and you begin to see some changes as you head up toward higher ground into Inyo National Forest territory.

As I began my quest towards Mt. Whitney’s summit, I was surprised to discover the vast amounts of water along the way. My mind was at peace when it came to replenishing my water supply, because I had a water filter handy, which I used to dip into one of the many streams and lakes I encountered on my journey.

Given California’s current drought problem, I started to realize how much I take water for granted and how truly precious a readily available resource it is normally. The human body can live up to three weeks without food, but only as little as three days without any water. What would I do if Mt. Whitney had no water supplies for me to drink from? What if I had to survive in the desert down below for more than 3 days? What would I do?

Three mechanisms for capturing water to survive:
1. Pit-style Solar Stills: These can take about an hour to build, but if constructed correctly, you may be able to get a quart of water a day from it.

2. Plant Condensation: This strategy utilizing plants as a water source can produce a cup of water per bag, but the key is patience.

3. Morning Dew: You can collect any dew that forms on plants or underneath rocks before the sun rises and it evaporates. This method doesn’t provide much water, but every drop counts when you are in the desert or anywhere where water is scarce.

After learning about these survival strategies I felt a little bit better about my chances out in the desert, and I also became a bit more water conscious. From now on, I’m going to appreciate the abundance of water I can access at my fingertips, and I will do my part in minimizing the amount that I use on an everyday basis.

Infographic: Holabird Sports.

Infographic: Holabird Sports.


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