Friday, October 17, 2008

Crossing a stream safely

The narrowest point in a stream may be the most tempting but is probably the most dangerous point to cross because the current is more powerful there. The widest part is probably the safest. At any rate, going for the slow and deep is usually safer than shallow and fast.
Always release your hip belt before crossing a stream in case you are knocked off your feet. This way you can easily rid yourself of the pack if you are washed downstream. This could save you from drowning, and it is better to lose your pack than your life.
If you are trying to cross a snow-fed river near the end of the day, consider waiting until morning. Pitch camp and spend the night there. The stream’s flow will be reduced during the cool evening, and it will be easier to cross the stream before things heat up during the day.
Long pants have more drag on you than shorts. Cross in shorts or even nude or in underwear. Once across, you can warm up by redonning your clothes.
Some crossings are safe enough to do barefoot, but why take chances? Wear your boots or camp shoes, if you have them. A number of companies make water socks— scrunchable shoes with a rough sole made for gripping rocks and stream beds.
When crossing rapids, face upstream and move sideways like a crab. Using a hiking stick or pole will help you maintain your balance.

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