Forum Index > Trail Talk > Drinking the water at Twin Lakes (Monte Cristo)
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PostFri Sep 15, 2006 6:53 pm 
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oh wow.  all the more fortuitous that I set out for Twin Lakes and ended up having to melt snow on the ridgetop.
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Caller
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PostSun Sep 17, 2006 8:44 am 
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Back in about 88 the missus and me wound up with Giardia(sp?) from tasting the waters up above Monte.....

Durned if I can remember the creeks now but I think Glacier was one of them. The other was over above the Old Boston/American mine?????

We were up on a trail clearing party and too far away from the water bottles IIRC.  We don't do that since that time.

Other than the "Revenge" and a little medication we came out all right.   I haven't noticed if we glow at night or such.  embarassedlaugh.gif
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MrOldLude
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PostThu Sep 22, 2016 9:54 pm 
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Hate to resurrect this one, but it seems like the best post on the matter.

I'm not finding much in the way of concrete data regarding Silver Lake. I've dug up this study from 2012(PDF warning) that talks about the runoff waters in the basin and downstream.

Moreover, this graphic:


Of mines in the area. I can't seem to find any at higher elevations than Silver lake. Given, it's not really shown on the map either.

That said, I just discovered this archive:

Quote:
The group on the divide between Silver Creek and Monte Cristo, adjoining
the most southerly claims in the latter district, is the Silver Lake, composed
of six claims, with a millsite in Monte Cristo, ow T ned by the Silver Lake
Mining and Smelting Company. A ledge cutting through Silver Tip Mountain
towards the lake is three to four and one-half feet and is covered by three
claims. A tunnel 150 feet on the ledge
shows it to carry sulphurets the full
width, assays running $2 to $14 and proving the ore to be good for concen-
tration. A parallel ledge covered by two claims shows three feet of ore Where
it is cut by the creek and is opened by a tunnel 101 feet long at a point 300 feet
higher, where assays of $10 to $43 gold and silver have been obtained, while the
upper claim shows a large body of ore assaying from $1 to $20.

Long and short, I want to drink from Silver Lake an minimize the amount of water I'm packing in. I know downstream in the basin is probably a little metallic, and avoided. But I haven't found any scientific analysis on Silver Lake water either.
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SKS
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 5:19 am 
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I drink from the streams flowing in to Twin Lakes from the snow at the East end of the upper lake. Also I have drank from the stream right at Monte Cristo by the bike rack. No problems yet.
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Schroder
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 6:45 am 
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Glacier Creek and '76 Creeks are both laden with heavy metals. The ore concentrator was just above Glacier Creek and many of the mines were on '76 Creek, with 2 main shafts right on the side of the creek.  There was nothing at Twin Lakes other than a couple of test bores.  The ones at Silver Lake drain toward the valley, not the lake.  The lakes should be fine with regard to heavy metals.  I still wouldn't drink out of the lower creeks.
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ale_capone
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 7:24 am 
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Some friends and I camped at twin lakes a few winters ago, and drank from the upper twin outlet. Usually a non issue mid winter, but a few of us had mild stomach discomfort after.

Accessed via troublesome with my dog. I never considered the water in the lower creeks, where she drinks. Maybe a dogs shelf life isn't long enough to worry about occasional consumption?


Old report.
http://www.turns-all-year.com/skiing_snowboarding/trip_reports/index.php?topic=27196.0
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Sculpin
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 7:45 am 
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It is good that folks are concerned about the quality of backcountry water but the risks tend to be overstated.  As for biological contamination, I would be interested in any reference to any study in the state of Washington that unequivocally shows that a backcountry water source is contaminated.  After my doctor told me that no such data exists I went looking myself and came up empty, but that was a few years ago.  I know some folks will be adamant that they drank from x creek and then they got sick but anecdotal evidence is insufficient for an infection with a 7-10 day gestation period and a wide range of human responses to infection.  If your first thought is that I am crazy (because so many rangers have assured you...), try the Wikipedia page for giardiasis.
Now on to heavy metals.  There are some seriously contaminated water sources in the backcountry, all from mining.  Railroad creek below the Holden mines is particularly bad, and no doubt the folks on this thread know what they are talking about with respect to Monte Cristo.  But cold, clear creeks don't carry much metal.  After storms of sufficient magnitude to roll tailings cause turbidity in the stream, definitely avoid drinking from them.  But here is the key fact:  heavy metals in drinking water are dangerous because they bio-accumulate.  You have traces of all these nasty metals in your body already.  Drinking for a few days from a stream with parts-per-million concentrations of heavy metals will not change your personal heavy metal budget.  I met a nice young couple on a trail in Colorado who had planned a multi-day trip but were turning back because the guy just couldn't carry the gallons of water they thought they needed.  The over-the-top warnings about backcountry water have a real human toll.

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MrOldLude
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 11:45 am 
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Sculpin wrote:
But here is the key fact:  heavy metals in drinking water are dangerous because they bio-accumulate.  You have traces of all these nasty metals in your body already.  Drinking for a few days from a stream with parts-per-million concentrations of heavy metals will not change your personal heavy metal budget.

That's my general logic here. Reading through the above .pdf, in 2012, surface water tests show that samples from Monte Cristo lake ranged from 3 to 26 times the acceptable dose of arsenic. I'd avoid that on general principle. But the surrounding streams seem to be in the acceptable range to slightly above the prolonged safe limit of 10 micrograms/liter.

So I feel it's important to be cognizant of your situation, but I am coming around to agree this one may be a tad overblown for a day hiker or simple overnight trip. Plus my brain is beyond the critical developmental stage. If I had a toddler, I'd probably have a little more caution. But either way, maybe I can collect a water sample for analysis out of curiosity.
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rossb
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 2:29 pm 
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It is my understanding that carbon filter help a bit with the situation as well. So for a trip that you are concerned about, it makes sense to grab one of those (and, as suggested, drink from the better locations).
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Malachai Constant
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PostFri Sep 23, 2016 5:34 pm 
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As per Edward Abbey and my experience in the Southwest mining areas the clearest flowing water is the most dangerous. Most filters will not remove pollutants that are ionized such as arsenic, lead, radioactive elements, copper, cadmium, antimony, and others. The green water filled with bugs is safer and a filter will remove most all the parasites.

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PostSat Sep 24, 2016 6:34 am 
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"I would be interested in any reference to any study in the state of Washington that unequivocally shows that a backcountry water source is contaminated.  After my doctor told me that no such data exists"

Ongerth (1989a) conducted a study to assess Giardia cyst levels in three pristine watersheds in Washington state... Giardia cysts were found in 94 (43%) of the 222 samples. Based on the recovery efficiencies and sample volume, the cyst levels ranged from 10 to 520 cysts/100 L. Environmental Protection Agency “Giardia: Drinking Water Health Advisory”

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PostSat Sep 24, 2016 8:12 am 
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Thanks Alaska, there is more at your link than I previously found.  If you are experienced in judging the merits of scientific claims, you can see from the list of papers you linked what a mess this is.  Where a correlation "p" statistic is given for relationship of infection to surface water consumption (in only two abstracts), they are less than 0.1.  Most scientists wouldn't even report that as a correlation.  Giardia is commonly found in the human gut with no symptoms of infection because only specific types are infectious.  Does it make sense that pristine springs have infectious giardia when tens of millions of Americans drink unfiltered well water?

I had not read the Monte Cristo water sampling pdf when I made my earlier post.  While the waters around Monte Cristo are indeed contaminated with heavy metals, note that the cited drinking water standards are for chronic exposure.  You just won't get acute sickness from the heavy metals in these waters and your odds of cancer later in life (which is the real threat) wont' change from drinking the water for a few days.  This is why the results led to a warning to the one cabin owner on the most contaminated stream, but not warnings to hikers.

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Alaska
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PostSat Sep 24, 2016 9:20 am 
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The CDC says there are well over a million cases of giardia per year in the US and that hikers drinking untreated water are in a high risk group.

Giardia cysts are commonly found in backcountry water considered "pristine."

The minimum infectious dose is below 10 cysts, about 2% for a single cyst by the best estimate.

Springs vs. wells: giardia cysts are rarely found in good, deep wells where the water has been thoroughly filtered. Giardia cysts are relatively common in shallow wells and surface water, including springs, as documented by testing and confirmed outbreaks of giardiasis.

Rarely do people know how much filtering water in a spring has been subjected to. It might indeed have been filtered sufficiently, or it may have run into the ground a few feet away or traveled through a crack in the rock where little filtering has occurred. The only way to know if spring water is safe to test it. Spring water is often found to be safe, and often found to be unsafe, and it changes with time.

Nobody knows how high the risk is, but the risk has been established.

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PostWed Jul 29, 2020 9:15 am 
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From WTA.org, https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/twin-lakes-monte-cristo

Quote:
Be sure to fill up water before you leave! The water below and at Monte Cristo is contaminated with Arsenic exposed during early mining in the area, so the first water source is a stream about a mile beyond the Monte Cristo Townsite. Farther up, the water from Silver and Twin Lakes is most likely safe to drink as well. However, if you’re concerned about it, just plan to pack in all the water you’ll need, to be on the safe side.

So it sounds like there is a source about a mile up from the town.

side note: P-values are not correlation values. So a P of 0.1 means that we can be 90% confident that the null hypothesis was rejected, and in fact, the study's findings were not due to random chance.

I'm going this weekend in 80 degree weather for an overnight. I will fill up my 3-liter water bladder, and bring one SmartWater bottle with a sawyer mini as well. If I find the stream, I will refill everything and stop rationing - diluting it with what I still have left. If I had time I would order a Water Hydration Activated Carbon Filter Bottle and run it through a FEW times.
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pula58
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PostWed Jul 29, 2020 2:01 pm 
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Hmmm...this thread makes me wonder about Chain lakes (below La Bohn gap) and possible mining poisons in the water there.
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