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Old 02-27-2011   #1
denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 62
San Juan River Info

I'm floating the permitted section of the San Juan in a few weeks. I was curious about drinking water. Do you truly have to bring all your drinking water or is it possible to filter water? (using buckets, waiting for the sediment to settle, then filtering technique).

Also, would we be missing anything truly special if we don't get a navajo land permit? Thoughts?

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Old 02-27-2011   #2
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1896
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 94
SJ water is VERY silty, also, years ago Mex Hat dumped some pretty nasty stuff in the river right at the town. We carried all our water and were very glad we did. You will probably need to settle overnight, and use a major industrial quality filter like a big Katadyn. I think you will find one of the smaller back-packing types will not be up to the task. You will have to disassemble and clean any filter often, probably every gallon at least.

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Old 02-27-2011   #3
Unincorporated Douglas County, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1896
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 94
Oh, and Navajo permit. We didn't get one and didn't miss it, but we put in at Mex Hat, don't know about up river. Most of the interesting stuff is on the north side (after Mex Hat). Grand Gulch, Slickhorn, all north. Oljeto is a nice side canyon (but be very careful of flash flooding. Definitely do not camp in the side canyon) on the south side, but I think it may be beyond the permit area. We explored it back about 1/2 mile and I seriously doubt it is patrolled. The most likely places you would day hike would be Grand G or Slickhorn.
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Old 02-28-2011   #4
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Gunnison, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1970
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 86
The San Juan has the consistency of flowing mud. At best it is much siltier than Cataract during the rainy season. Bring all your water. Even settling buckets for cleaning water overnight will not remove the fine sediment suspended in the water - but it will leave an inch of mud on the bottom and help a little. Slickhorn is about the only place you will find water clear enough to filter.

I have never bothered with the Navajo permit. Too expensive at $5/person/day and takes too long to get as I typically do this trip in March. The rangers ask if you have a Navajo permit at the put in. If they see you down river camping or hiking on Navajo land they may fine you.
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Old 02-28-2011   #5
denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 62

Thanks for the info. I will be filling up the water jugs now.
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Old 02-28-2011   #6
Fallingup's Avatar
Summit County, and Idaho
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 261
We are launching on the SJ in 3 weeks and will bring plenty of water too! All the silt drives me crazy!!
Have a great trip!

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