We all know that we need water to survive. Perhaps we even buy elaborate water purification systems or stockpile water.
But what do you do when you’re out in the wilderness, thirsty and lost, and need water to fill your bottles? Or, even worse, out in the wilderness in an arid area of the country? How can you find water then?
Hopefully you’ve got a topographical map that has water sources marked. But you can’t necessarily count on that. You need to know how to read the land as well, so that you can tell where to find water, even if you don’t have a map. Look around you, and the land will tell you where the water is.
1. Go Downhill
The first thing to do is head downhill. Water, following the laws of gravity, will always flow downward. Not only that, but it will always look for the easiest way to go downhill. Look around you. How is the land sloping? Is there a valley or canyon that water is likely to flow through? You’re much more likely to find water in the depression where two mountainsides or two hillsides come together, than you are on the hillside itself.
It may take a while, but if you are traveling downhill, you’ll eventually get to water. Watch out for dehydration, though. If you are in arid terrain, you will be better off traveling at night and hiding out in the shade during daylight hours. Walking in the direct sun will cause you to sweat even more, dehydrating you faster.
2. Watch for Hidden Basins
As you are walking downhill, keep your eyes open for hidden catch basins. You might come across one in a hidden spot in a valley. It’s not uncommon for the terrain to cause small ponds in catch basins, especially if the valley is rock, rather than dirt. Water won’t absorb into the rock as easily. There is even a possibility of finding hidden water basins in the desert, if there is rock to hold the water.
Also, watch for indicators of catch basins. If you see a dead tree with a trail of ants going up it, there’s a good chance that there is water in a hollow of that tree. Insects, like ants and bees, need water, and won’t travel far from a good reliable source.
Hidden basins may not be easy to see, as the same terrain features that make them possible also make them hard to find. At the same time, they may be hidden by foliage, preventing you from seeing them easily, which brings us to our next point …