Today we were dehydrated. We took only one bottle of water for what we thought was going to be an easy short hike. But in pursue of an elusive silver mine site the hike turned out longer and more strenuous then planned. It went surprisingly high up a slope drenched in the unforgiving sun light. And to our dismay instead of looping back to the parking lot it veered onto the other side of the mesa: we had to retrace our steps to get back. Park service advises to drink at least a gallon per person per day when outdoor in arid climate and they have it right - we drank about that amount upon return to the car after several hours of hiking the Catwalk followed by the Gold Dust trail in Gila Forest.
Americans consider themselves dehydrated all the time. They are not thirsty anymore - they are parched. Leisurely stroll down the street calls for carrying bottled water. I consider this language development - scientific sounding dehydrated replacing plain old-fashion thirsty - to be the reason behind the bottled water fad. Thirsty people can be easily helped by giving them something, anything, to drink. Dehydration sounds like an illness that has to be treated with respect and vanquished with something more potent than water flowing from the tap.
And because the quality of what comes from most American taps is comparable to regular purified bottled water, the industry has to invent new ploys to sell it. Pure water becomes somehow not enough and it has to be fortified with vitamins, spiked with panacea like ginseng and enhanced with flavors. While there is no evidence such additives have any effect we continue to spend money on water despite it coming from the tap for free (or for far less). We also contribute to global warming (the bottles have to be produced, transported and then recycled), ocean pollution (plastic that is not recycled floats and eventually ends up in the ocean), and exorbitant profits of petroleum industry (all this plastic has to be made from something).
So how about quenching one’s thirst with a regular water and reserve dehydration for the ill-prepared hikers?