The stream from Monarch Spring should provide fairly decent drinking water once filtered
The stream runs from two to eight inches in width and about six inches in depth at its deepest. It has a lot of algae on the surface, but the water underneath is clear and clean.
I get out my water bottles one-by-one and slowly fill them with water pumped through my MSR water purifier. I perform a taste test on the filtered water and it's pretty good.
I leisurely pump away as the sun beams down and starts to heat up the day, and me. I recognize a faint, musty odour in my surroundings that I can't immediately identify.
As time passes, I conclude that it's most probably from diluted feces from bighorn sheep, which like to frequent desert water sources such as this. I'm not a big meat eater, but lamb is my favourite red meat, and the scent of lamb meat is unmistakable.
I don't see any actual feces anywhere, but I do notice some soft earthy material on the ground that doesn't seem to be part of the hard earth layer beneath it.
I haven't seen any bighorn sheep during this trip yet, but I did catch a glimpse of a few last year near Marl Springs in Mojave National Preserve.
I'm content when my four 1.5-litre bottles are full of clean backcountry water and begin the hike back to my camp site. Passing through the area of head-high reeds around Monarch Spring is much easier on the return trip, now that I know how to get through it.
Next photo album: Day 6, afternoon: Ride up Chloride Cliff Road from Monarch Canyon and back
Date: April 23, 2007, 11h30