ABC4 Utah

Four W’s for surviving Utah’s wilderness: Water

PLEASANT GROVE, Utah (ABC4) — Water is a necessity to survival.

Although most Utah’s trails have access to water, experts say none are safe to drink from.

A stream can do much more than create a serene hike.

“Days without water, weeks without food,” Erik Pearson said.

You can survive three days without water. But survivalist Erik Pearson says on Utah’s trails, you probably won’t have to.

“When you are looking for water, why is this potentially a good idea? When looking at this pool, you can see it is pretty darn clear. You can’t see bacteria or pollutants, but if you see the water skeeters (trim), they float on the surface like this guy. If there are any pollutants that rise to the top of the water and breaks the surface, they can’t survive,” Pearson said.

Most Utah trails have access to water, but Pearson says to think twice before drinking.

“We have rocky mountain big horn, they are in the sheep family and they are typically the ones who carry the parasite Giardia,” Pearson said. “If you just take a sip of the water, you might catch that, and it takes a day or two to kick in, but when it does, you are going to be vomiting and diarrhea, severe stomach cramps until you get medical attention. It can really mess you up”.

In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s last report on Giardia in Utah showed there were 60 water-born Giardia outbreaks related to animal contact, 867 illnesses, 133 hospitalizations, and two deaths.

“I would carry a small BIC lighter, something to make a small fire. If you need to gather water, you can boil the water, you can give it the rolling boil for a couple minutes,” Pearson said.

Pearson says a small water filter also works.

“This is a little Sawyer Mini, it can filter out things smaller than a virus and I just go with a smart water bottle because it will thread right on the top and grab water right of the lake,” Pearson said.

The four W’s are weather, water, wildlife, and wood.

Pearson says his life’s mission is to prepare people for Utah’s wilderness.

“Dont be afraid, do not focus on the negative,” Pearson said.

“There is a first step to everything; just keep in mind and pay attention to your surroundings and understand that accidents do happen”.

Now as we just learned, none of the four W’s are really comfort items when you are out in Utah’s wilderness, but they will all help save your life.