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Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

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Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ouachita hiker on Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:20 am

I have been known on this board as the older more cautious hiker type. I wear that badge proudly! I just want
everyone to please be careful with stream crossings. Not much attention these days are given to the what I
call to the nuts and bolts of backpacking. Discussions are mainly on how light our packs should be not on
technique. If you have access to one of Colin Fletchers Complete Walker books, I have book III he covers
stream crossings in detail. Just my .02 worth, yall please be carefull I don't want to read about any hikers
swept to there deaths..

Tom
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by HillbillyHkr on Tue Oct 13, 2009 1:51 pm

Good advice OH. With the ground saturated like it is, please pay attention to campsite location. This is the perfect setup for flashfloods or getting trapped between two waterways.

I would also recommend reading the Colin Fletcher books. In my opinion version 3 is better than 4. Chip Rawlins co-wrote 4 and it lost some of the Colin Fletcher wisdom. (not that 4 is bad by any means)
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ouachita hiker on Tue Oct 13, 2009 3:23 pm

Also as you all know that the rage is hikeing staffs. Fletcher use one staff, usually cane. It was tall and you could really get a good two hand hold on it. I feel that one staff is better for DANGEROUS stream crossings. He said to move one foot, staff at a time. Don't get in a hurry. Feel your way.
Also always undo your hip belt. I am just saying this because with all of the heavy rains we have had we all can find ourselves in a dagerous situation in a hurry. Take care!
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by Coldspring on Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:01 pm

Thanks for the post about a realistic matter. I don't think my new 3.2 oz Titanium Goat poles will make good stream crossers.

I canoe upstream in the summer and do a lot of wading. As long as you have rope attached to a canoe pulling against you to lean on, it's not too hard to negotiate the currents. No rope and canoe, you can't hardly stand up w/o getting swept away...
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ouachita hiker on Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:19 pm

Guys the recent post not only here but also on Backpacker.com forums is what spured me to post this. Also back in my mind was a stream crossing of the Cossatot that I made back in around 1975. I had read The Complete Walker III, or was it II? heck I don't remember but I know why the Indians called that the stream the skull crusher!

I was on a field trip, over night backpacking trip, for a college class at HSU. This class was led by Dan Marsh. He was known back then as one of the first people to map caves in the Ozarks and some other things. He didn't know a thing about crossing streams! The crossing to the Caney Creek trail was I think a little further upstream then, it has all changed now. There was kids on that trip that didn't know ANYTHING about back country travel. And we were going to ford a near flooding Cossatot! I thought then and still do think that some one is going to die!

One guy some how got across and tied off a rope, then the guys and girls started across. Man this wasn't a way to cross a stream! I saw several almost let go, if they had they would have been swept down stream and that would have been the end of them!! My self and one friend (the only sane ones in the bunch) seperated from the bunch and slowly crossed, one step and one placement of the cane. Always keeping two firmly placed on the stream bottom. Any way we made it across in one piece.

By the way this was my first introduction to the Caney Creek Wilderness, actually I don't think it was a wilderness at the time, and I have kept coming back!

Well I have pretty much kept this story to my self all of these years but I felt the time was ripe for a stream crossing story!

Hope I didn't bore anyone!!
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by Clif on Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:13 am

ohhh hmmmph... is it over??? what's that??? drool on my face?


Kidding. Serious now. Thanks T. This is a very serious matter. I have done Swift Water Rescue classes, as have most of the kayakers one sees in those pics of water you would not dream of being in.

ONE OF, IF NOT THE MOST COMMON AND DANGEROUS SWIFT WATER SCENARIOS IS FOOT ENTRAPMENT. Walking across swift current. We are taught NEVER stand in the moving water. Only in the eddies where there is less current. Once a foot is between two rocks or under or tangled with a limb or log.... bad news and very hard to get yourself out. This claims lives every year...often while trying to retrieve some gear. Above knee deep is extremely dangerous. Enough push and current to hold you there till you can not hold yourself up any longer, And plenty to drown you.

Swimming a stream is obviously not an option for hikers. But crossing should be very carefully evaluated. In Tom's story the pole crossing is a good idea. Two points on the bottom all the time. An option would be to cross together with poles. SIX legs on the bottom, five at a time is even more stable.

Water can change a lot. Even in a single flood. A new log, moved rock, something changes water direction and lots of ground can be moved. What was an easy crossing may be unsafe. Looking for a better crossing may be prudent. The trail itself could cause current action that digs holes.

For sure an issue that the more you know, the better you will be
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ouachita hiker on Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:25 am

Clif,

Good points! Also I didn't say originaly but face UP stream when crossing. Also a given but if you are new you may not know. If you can't see the bottom don't cross there! As far as number of points of contact I like three. If the current is strong I use two hands on one pole. It is easy in a strong current for one pole to be wrestled out of your hand in crossing. But to each his own.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ouachita hiker on Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:25 am

Clif,

Good points! Also I didn't say originaly but face UP stream when crossing. Also a given but if you are new you may not know. If you can't see the bottom don't cross there! As far as number of points of contact I like three. If the current is strong I use two hands on one pole. It is easy in a strong current for one pole to be wrestled out of your hand in crossing. But to each his own.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by Coldspring on Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:39 am

Interesting thread here. It's kind of scary just thinking about it. Outdoor excursions are for fun and relaxation, not to be terrified! I know I never do my "wading" in rivers over 700 cfs, they're always crystal clear at a fairly normal summer level. FWIW, I've been swept away a few times and had to hold onto the canoe back downstream until the current slowed.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ouachita hiker on Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:05 pm

Coldspring,

Yes scary stuff here! But with the rain of late and the high streams some folks need to be jolted awake. Nature can be kind or cruel.
The main thing is to be prepaired. Do your home work. There are other places to hike were stream crossings aren't a major factor.
The ERL and Caney Creek trail there are MANY stream crossings. It still amazes me that some folks don't seem to have a clue on
how to cross a stream safely.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ouachita hiker on Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:14 pm



Hurricane Creek, stream is safe to cross,



The next morning, not safe to cross. (says 3/21 but is really 3/22)



Another view, would you cross?? I sure as heck wouldn't that is the reason we got to the other side the afternoon before
I expected heavy rain but not this much!
(shows 3/21 but is really 3/22)

Food for thought...


Last edited by ouachita hiker on Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:31 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : wrong date on two bottom pics.)
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by chili on Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:54 pm

When in doubt, don't.

Cross at the first available moment. Those pics are a prime example of how things can change overnight.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by Preacha Man on Sat Oct 24, 2009 12:39 pm

I got stuck on the OHT a few years ago because I coud not cross. I was supposed to cross the night before, but if I did I would have been stuck between two flooded creeks. This is a great thread, because some may look at it as its just water. Water is scary especially when its flooded and its cold outside.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by Clif on Tue Oct 27, 2009 10:08 am

Padre' Sinsei, wouldn hurt my feelings at all ifn you changed that picture...eeeewwww!
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ouachita hiker on Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:05 pm

Yep kinda hurts to look at it don't it Clif! Can you imagine at real cold stream crossing with those feet?

Ouch!!
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by Preacha Man on Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:50 pm

The cold water helps feet like that, but oh well I guess you non-blistered folks just don't understand Wink. I consider those feet a badge of honor, but I can see how some would think they are non-palatable Very Happy.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by ED on Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:43 pm

I agree with the badge of honor. Preacha got those feet with this incredible trip:

"March 12-14, 2009

Buffalo River Trail Boxley to Pruitt/Pruitt to Boxley (Yo-Yo )

73 miles

I'll post a full report later when I can walk again "


You da-man Preacha, I didn't mind looking at that pic.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by Clif on Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:51 pm

course, now peeps will see that grin and say... ???
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

Post by Trail Monkey on Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:26 pm

Just glad I wasn't with him on that grin. People already talk enough about me lol.
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Re: Please be careful!! (stream crossings)

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