When the bank is steep, it’s better to stay above so you don’t take an unexpected swim (especially in winter!), or erode and destroy precious riparian banks with your boot soles.
Trekking-pole fishing rod: Duct tape a piece of cord to your water bottle, then thread the rope through a cord lock. Secure the cord around your trekking pole. Dip the bottle into the creek (right). This system also secures your bottle to your pack, so you won’t lose it when hiking (see Know-How, September 1999).
Cast your bottle: Tie a long piece of cord around the neck of the bottle. Be sure to secure it with a good knot, such as a bowline (left) so it doesn’t come loose and float away. Put rocks in the bottle so it’ll sink and take in water. Cast the bottle into a stream, then “reel” it in when it’s full.
Some puddles are so shallow they’re more dirt than water. Other times, I’ve found water trickling beneath a relatively dry streambed and couldn’t reach it easily.
Siphoning: Detach the inlet hose from your water filter and place one end in the water source (right). If you must use the output hose, be sure to flush it with filtered water when finished to get rid of any intestinal cooties that could be lurking. Suck on the other end of the tube to start the water flowing, but avoid ingesting any (cootie concerns, again). Once the water starts flowing, put the tube in your water bottle and wait for it to fill. If you use iodine instead of a filter, carry a length of tubing in case you need to get to hard-to-reach water sources.