2nd Pipeline Burst – Water Woes Update 5.31.12

by Jean on May 31, 2012

Important Water Pipeline Break Update:  You Need a Water Filtration System, not just treatment tablets!

I called the Back Country office today (5-31-12) to get an update on the burst pipeline inside the inner canyon.

Bad news, there has been a second pipeline break.  One is by Phantom Ranch, the other is north of Cottonwood Campgrounds.  The second one blew away part of the trail.  Hikers are having to hike down into the creek, walk for awhile in the creek, then scramble back up to get on the trail.

The blast disrupted the water in the Bright Angel Creek and the water is muddy right now.  The Back Country office recommends water filters, not treatment tablets.  They hope the rangers can find an alternate route so that hikers are not in the water – but no promises can be made and we can not rely on these problems being resolved.  You must buy water filtration systems from home, and you can not rely on finding any of these items on the Rims.  If you need to ship something to Arizona contact me and I’ll give you our local address.

Be prepared to treat water and hike under these conditions.  I had bought a Steripen Adventurer (www.steripen.com) from REI which is UV light purification.  However, this is not ideal in muddy or mirky water which requires filtration not just purification.  I had  left over from last year a Aquamira bottle (www.aquamira.com) and I have ordered a replacement filter.  I have never used any of these systems but this year I am taking all three:  The UV Steripen, the Aquamira filtration system, and tablets just in case.

Filtering water takes time and will slow us down.  Hiking in the river will slow us down, having poles for balance in the water may be very important.  I will be carrying extra water bottles in my backpack, and encourage you to do so as well.

First day hikers South to North R2R:  Right now there is no clean water between the start of the day and the Supai Tunnel, approximately 20 miles into the hike and almost at the top of the North Rim.  We will have to filter water from the creek at Phantom Ranch (at the bottom), Cottonwood, and Roaring Springs.  Water access will be easier on the second day of the hike.

Second day hikers North to South R2R:  Right now there is water at the North Kaibab trailhead, 1 1/2 miles down at Supai Tunnel, then water again on the Bright Angel Trail at Indian Gardens, the 3 mile house, and the 1 1/2 mile house from the top of the South Rim.  That means will have to filter water at Roaring Springs, Cottonwood, and Phantom Ranch.  We’ll have 3 water spots on the way out but we will have to cross the sand and hike partially out with filtered water.  That is roughly 17 miles between water spots.

All of this is subject to change but to hike safe we must hike smart and be prepared to filter our water accordingly.  Do not rely on any of these items to be found at the Canyon.  The first pipe broke over Memorial Day weekend which is a busy time and no doubt supplies are sold out.







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