I have always loved water. One of my favorite childhood memories is hiking along a mountain stream and stopping for a cool drink of water. My dad would regularly take us on hikes in the mountains of Colorado. He had this old army canteen that had a really cool cup that slipped off the bottom of the canteen and had a fold out handle. The cup was perfect for dipping into the stream and taking a delicious drink of water.
That’s right, I use to drink the water directly from the stream. As long as the stream was tumbling over rocks for a few hundred yards the water was perfectly drinkable. Dad would continue to refill the cup with stream water and we would take turns drinking the cold, clean, crisp water. I can hear the stream just thinking about it. What great memories, I wish I could pass them on.
A lot of those hikes were done in the Snowmass Wilderness Area above Aspen. Back then the BLM would lease the high country land to sheepherders. I always thought it was strange being in a Wilderness area and seeing a flock of sheep. We knew that the sheep spread ticks, but what we did not know was how fast a little parasite called giardia would be spread. In the late 1960’s, Aspen became known as Little Mexico (at least to backpackers who would drink the stream water and get diarrhea). By the 1970’s we had to filter our delicious stream water to remove the parasite. The government blamed the spread of giardia on the marmot. Those furry little guys who live mostly above timberline and can easily climb over the ridge and cross into another watershed. It was leasing the land to sheepherders that really caused the rapid spread. I’m sure if you do the research a loophole will be found that exempts commercial sheep farming in Wilderness areas.
Water is our most important resource. Please think before you dump something in the drain, or throw something toxic in the trash or on the ground. Eventually, some of that stuff ends up in our water and we have to figure out a way to remove it or maybe just say that in small quantities we think it is safe to drink, or maybe we are not informed at all and we wait until people start getting sick who drink from the well.
“Good things love water.”