Getting your feet wet

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Wandering Daisy
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Getting your feet wet

Post by Wandering Daisy » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:12 pm

On my last trip there was a very wide but ankle deep ford of Grouse Creek. Upstream was an complex jumble of logs and brush above a small section of waterfalls. I anticipated stream crossing so a no-brainer for me; off with the shoes, on with Crocks, wade across, dry feet with a kerchief, shoes back on: 10 minutes. A group of guys behind me did not want to get their feet wet. Up they went trying to find a way across the logs. They had to back up, try different routes, and when I left, after a bit of lunch, they were still at it.

So what is the fear of getting your feet wet? If you watch the PCT hikers videos, some just slosh through, and keep going, not even bringing water shoes if the crossing is safe. If not then they spend time scouting for a log crossing. When I do not bring Crocks, I still wade, take out the insoles walk across and dry the shoes inside with a kerchief, put back dry insoles and socks and get on my way. Yes, my feet and shoes get damp, but not soaked, and generally are easy to dry out once I get to camp.

I would rather wade than jump rocks or do thin or wet log crossings. My feet may get wet, but there is much less chance of falling and a resulting injury. And most of the time, I actually enjoy the cool water on my feet. I had a hiking partner a few years back who had the toughest feet in the world- amazing, but she just walked across anything in bare feet. Ouch! That would not work for me.

So what is your stream crossing style?








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c9h13no3
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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by c9h13no3 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:16 pm

I do all 3. I walk across in bare feet if I'm wearing my slow drying waterproof boots, but my feet are pretty tough. And I generally only wear waterproof boots on day trips. If I'm wearing my trail runners, they dry super fast, so I just slosh on through and listen to my feet squish until the next shoes off rest break. And I'll rock hop or cross logs.

But I certainly don't faff about for 30 minutes.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Last edited by c9h13no3 on Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by rlown » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:16 pm

Where you use Crocs, I trust my Tevas. They are my camp/fishing/crossing shoes, and I wear socks with them to try and keep the mosquitoes at bay.
tevas are heavier, but I trust them. Just got a new pair as I've had the last pair for 35 years. Was worried that the velcro would fail.

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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by paula53 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:35 pm

I will rock hop across a small ford. Using my poles to balance, if I miss and get my feet wet its no big deal. Otherwise I will take off my boots tie them to my pack, stuff socks into a pocket and don my crocks. I just depends on the situation. I will not try and cross on a log. My balance at 65 is not what it was at 25.

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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by AlmostThere » Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:22 pm

I don't get it either. I take crocs but if I think I need more than crocs I'm fine wading with boots. People will try the craziest slipperiest tippiest looking logs, I wade instead.

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bobby49
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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by bobby49 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 4:28 pm

Besides, if you wade through water up to your ankles or your knees, it is kind of a hygienic thing.

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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by freestone » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:27 am

I hate taking my shoes off to cross streams but also hate wet shoes and feet in camp so I start the ford by hopping rocks. Many times however I wind up missing one or it rolls on me and that will wet a shoe or two. I wear trail runners but they only dry quickly if its midday and conditions are warm and dry. If they get soaked at the end of the day, they will remain wet until the next day. For that reason I bring a pair of Luna sandals to wear in camp. They would work to wade in too but I hate stopping just to change shoes so I bash on (or through!).
Fram...

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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by Wandering Daisy » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:34 am

I am lucky in that wet feet do not bother me and I do not even get blisters. So when I do not take Crocks and I have to wade, my shoes do get wet, but I still take them off and remove socks and the insole. I usually incorporate a rest stop with a ford, so it really does not add much time to my normal schedule. The most annoying thing about taking off shoes, is when mosquitoes are thick and they attack you and then you cannot even take a break on the other side! In those conditions I will also just bash through and then wring out my socks later when I get up to a windy area with less bugs.

For any serious crossing (deep, swift or cobble bottom), such as Cherry Creek early season, I leave on my hiking shoes, because they are so much more stable than Crocks. In that case, the Crocks are used as camp shoes.

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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by dougieb » Mon Jul 01, 2019 3:26 pm

Funny topic. I know what you mean about putting shoes back on and getting attacked by mosquitos. Yuck!

I don't carry extra shoes because I don't want the extra weight and find that I don't need them often anyway. Depending on the stream, I'll either take off my shoes and walk barefoot or I'll try to find a decent crossing. Too often though I've tried to use a sketchy log or rock crossings and found that they are more dangerous than wading because they are slippery or tip over.

I'll never forget crossing a stream in the wind river range, travelling south from Europe canyon and the water was so cold my wife screamed louder than I've ever heard. That was cold as ice. We still laugh about it today.

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Re: Getting your feet wet

Post by SSSdave » Mon Jul 01, 2019 6:43 pm

Much depends on condition. WD in your OP, you may have noted carrying a pack versus day hiking as crossing with a pack is always more difficult, especially over rocks and logs as a balance shift is magnified by the weight.

If I need to wade a larger stream less than crotch deep, will bring my 10.3 ounce Wiggy's waders that go over my pants and Asolo 520 TPS GV boots. If an out and back trip with one wade will stash them there and then retrieve them on the return to reduce weight. Also may bring some neoprene surfing boots. Decades ago did quite a lot of barefoot wading up to waist deep. Tie boots on top of pack then just bear it. Of note as one that prefers to feel clean at night in my goose down bag, I'm notorious for jumping into even cold water most every day so am quite familiar with the pain of walking across stream bed stones. Really icy cold water can be very incapacitating in just 15 seconds as cold reaches down into the nerves of large body bones. People may think they can swim out after falling in but just put your hands in such water for 15 seconds and notice how horrible it becomes. This is an account on my website from 2017:

http://www.davidsenesac.com/2017_Trip_C ... .html#aug2

"I asked a group of 3 young women about the North Fork of Mono Creek crossing and one related they waded after having looked at the tree trunk crossing downstream that I'd read about. I asked how wide was the trunk, and one spread her hands out only about a foot that told me it was best avoided carrying a heavy pack. At the 8050 creek ford 2.2 miles along, were 3 other men that had just waded the creek that further pointed to not bothering to check out the log crossing. A bunch of willows and dense lodgepole pines obscured that whole area just downstream.

No one else around, I stripped down to my shorts, strung my boots at the top of the pack, and headed across barefoot with the 65 pound load using both hands pushing down on my big tripod with all 3 legs extended and spread upstream for stability. Not as functional as trekking poles but better than a stick. Just upstream, the bare skeleton of a tree was anchored in the stream bed across the first half of the 30 feet or so stream width reducing flow velocity. The water was of course quite cold and my feet painfully slipped around on the rocky cobbles on the bottom, something I've been familiar with over decades. My surfing neoprene boots were back in the Forester, not bringing them a victim of my rush to get to the ferry. It was best to bull my way across quickly pausing little despite cold and pain because the longer in such water, the weaker more incapacitated a person becomes.

The crux just beyond midpoint was fast flowing crotch deep water swirling around both sides of a sizable underwater boulder. My toes painfully jammed between some larger rocks at the bottom as I inched across that section facing and leaning upstream while fighting to keep down force on my tripod. I made it behind the flow protecting underwater boulder. Beyond was a final fast flowing section I just might be able to lurch across into calmer water. I first picked up then pushed down the tripod into the middle of that flow, fighting to stabilize it with force on the bottom. Then leaned against the top of the tripod and with a momentary stall used all the jackrabbit DNA my legs could muster, before lurching. As my lead right foot left the bottom, the flow immediately rocked me downstream some but I pushed off against the tripod top helping push across the gap to slower flow where wobbling awkwardly I then stabilized. Stumbling out quickly from the cold water, glad that was over, spent about 20 minutes putting clothes back on and gear back together. Apparently my right big toe had suffered some nerve damage because it would still be a bit "strange" six weeks later. On my return leg 7 days later would learn the tree trunk crossing was the far better choice as it was over 3 feet in diameter where it spanned the creek while being just a foot in diameter well beyond the west side of the creek where dense willows hid views of the rest of its true size."


If a shallow stream can be crossed on rocks or gravel less than boot depth will walk right through as long as water won't get down inside my boots. Slippery wet barkless logs need to be avoided. Slippery icy wet barkless logs are worse. Any larger stream where a fall could be a disaster total soaking or worse drowning, I tend to avoid. On the same trip above, I looked at the main Mono Creek ford to reach Second Recess and rejected that quickly.

This week I crossed Selden Creek on a wet bark log with baby steps. If it was more difficult, I would have taken boots, sock, Levi 505's off and just waded but then that takes time. Or I might take my camera daypack off and first cross just with that or toss my sleeping bag across at a narrow point, before going across with the main pack. In each case I assess the time to remove gear or clothes and then dry off and repack versus rocks/logs. In 2017 crossed Piute Creek in Humphreys Basin per the below image with story here:
http://www.davidsenesac.com/2017_Trip_ ... 17-18.html

Image

"Sat down at the edge and eased down on boulder f that was amidst stronger stream flows. From this perspective one cannot see a water gap of about a 12 inches between e and f and about 18 inches between f and g. The gap between g and h was about 24 inches. Falling at this point would have had me flailing down in strong flows between awkward boulders. Not likely injurious or dangerous but certain to soak my gear. The crux was the step onto g that presented an awkward acute angle edge. Moving across moderate talus, I do that kind of dynamic stepping frequently but in this case the water added psychological fear. I would need to have enough momentum rocking forward in my dynamic stepping movement across the gap to then stretch my step to safety at boulder h. Hmmm...I looked at this for about a minute much like I do when during winter skiing a tricky sequence of short turns down some steep narrow section between obstacles. The main worry was that upon stepping onto the edge on g, I would lose balance and to negate that one needs to move confidently dynamically. Well it went well..."

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