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Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby RooPhillip » Fri Aug 16, 2013 8:55 pm

When I did the JMT with my step-brother in 1980, we each had an old pair of tennis shoes in our packs that we donned for creek crossings. Does anybody do that anymore?



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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby sparky » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:06 pm

Whats the sketchy-est (is that a word?) stream crossing you have ever done? Craziest log? Deepest ford? Scariest whitewater?
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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:59 pm

sparky wrote:Whats the sketchy-est (is that a word?) stream crossing you have ever done? Craziest log? Deepest ford? Scariest whitewater?

I'd say the worst I've done was the notorious Bubbs Creek Jct. Mdw crossing at the beginning of June (or end of May), 1979. I recall some sort of a log, then this jump onto rock that was slightly submerged followed by another fairly long hop to mellow water or the shore. I slip off the submerged rock had a good chance of being fatal. My buddy and I roped for this, but the rope would not have done much good had we really slipped into the worst of it. In years after that if I came to a crossing that looked even close to that I aborted or modified the trip to avoid the crossing.

2nd worst were two crossings on an Edyth Lake trip in May 1986. These were of Bartlett and Kibbie Creeks. The Bartlett one coming out was much worse than on the way in, as was the Kibbie crossing. Both were very energetic white water and both of these crossing were wading crossings. I think my buddy bashed his toe pretty badly on one of those crossings.

In July 1993 Judy and I gazed at Palisade Creek at Deer Mdw hoping to cross to climb up Cataract Creek en route to the Dumbbells. The creek was so high I pretty much said we would have to turn back but we could look for a magic log before we gave up. A bit of searching upstream found just that: a really big magic log. This must have been a really big log, because even Judy felt OK crossing it--she hates crossing logs even over easy water, let alone crossing one over potentially fatal water.

Once while doing field work along the N. Fork Feather River (roadless stretch of it), there was no bridge where the topo said there should be. The flows were not high enough to be hazardous and it was a hot (high 80's at least) day, so I swam across holding my all non waterproof stuff (like my map with the data on it) above my head so it wouldn't get wet. Certainly not a "hairy" crossing, but it's the only one where I actually swam.
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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby caddis » Sat Aug 17, 2013 6:48 am

giantbrookie wrote:I can see the rationale for a large group of making everyone wade. As for myself, I wade only if I can't cross comfortably via a log or logs, or by rock hopping. "Comfortably" will vary considerably for everyone, and it varies for me depending on how I feel at that time of the day, too as well as the degree of difficulty of the logs and rocks, and the potential consequences of a slip. I see no reason to get my feet wet if I don't have to, but I also avoid doing anything too strenuous simply for the sake of staying dry.

Over the years, I have tended to like rock hopping, whether it be across streams, or big boulders in talus piles, but I recognize that with age my agility and balance will no doubt decline and I'll probably consider wading at crossings where I might have routinely bounced across in the past.


This is why we need a "Thanks" feature for SierraTopix. This post pretty much summed it up perfectly for me and I'd be curious to to how many others feel the same way
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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby rlown » Sat Aug 17, 2013 9:58 am

caddis wrote:This is why we need a "Thanks" feature for SierraTopix. This post pretty much summed it up perfectly for me and I'd be curious to to how many others feel the same way


You just implemented it. The reply. Provides more context to the "why" of a thanks than a button ever would.

I don't like to get my boots wet inside. If the crossing is shallow (not above the boot, I'll walk through it other than taking a log. Goretex don't fail me now. A fall off the log would be worse than a boot overflow.
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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby LMBSGV » Sat Aug 17, 2013 10:15 am

When I did the JMT with my step-brother in 1980, we each had an old pair of tennis shoes in our packs that we donned for creek crossings. Does anybody do that anymore?

Yes. I use running shoes for creek crossings and as campsite shoes.

As I've aged and my balance has become shakier and my leaping ability decreased and, thus, my confidence less, I wade more than I used to. Except for the time lost taking off my boots and socks and putting on the running shoes, it's no big deal. And worrying about the time while backpacking is rather silly.
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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby canukyea » Mon Aug 19, 2013 11:20 pm

Fast is priority number one, dry is number two. Normally it's hopping or jumping or finding a log. If there is no dry method, I simply bash through without much thought. Cherry Creek, above my knees, just walked through in my shoes. It was a little cold and wet but it wasn't worth the trouble.
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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:21 am

I am sure that everyone assumes that safety is priority #1.

Fast may not be the most efficient, if the risk of a tumble going fast is high. Fast is great if you do not fall in! Fall in, and then you spend more time drying out, finding lost stuff and attending to perhaps injuries. I think a lot of people over-rate "dry". I feel the wet feet-blisters is a myth. Tight shoes and heat cause more blisters. If however you are getting feet wet during the day, I find that sleeping without socks at night helps keep the skin from getting tender.

Most hikers are not fully aware of the dangers of falling off a log. Where there are logs, there are usually lots of other debris in the stream. Fall off, and get swept under a downstream debris pile and you drown. Also unbuckle your hip belt (this goes deep fords too). You really want to be able to quickly get free of the pack if you fall in. There is a dilemma with serious rock hopping - you are more stable with the waist strap tight, yet if you fall, it is safer to have the waist strap (and sternum strap) off.

Almost There may be able to chime in. She works with SAR. I believe that drowning is one of the major causes of death in the Sierra.
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Re: Rock hoppin' or sloppin'?

Postby Tom_H » Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:38 am

When I was young an not leading a group, I would do most anything to avoid wet feet: rock hopping, walking downed trees, even long jumping (with the belts unstrapped) streams up to 7 feet. Now I'm too old for that stuff and have gone back to the way I was trained. In 2011, streams were so high that I found myself pulling off the socks, putting bare feet into unlaced boots, crossing wet, and socking back up on the other side. I'll put my water shoes on if it doesn't look too problematic, but if it looks like a foot could get stuck between rocks, I go with the unlaced boots and no socks. If the boot gets stuck, the foot can come out. The water shoes are only a few ounces and I can wear them in camp with a thin wool liner-way more comfortable than keeping those boots on all evening.

When I was a guide, I worked for an organization started by a NOLS graduate. We always forded bigger streams in loose boots, sockless. Part of it was liability and part of it was the need to teach novices how to do the technique correctly and safely so that when the need arose, they would know how. Did I expect them all to do it that way every time in the future? No, just like I didn't do it when backpacking without a paying group. But in those cases where there was no log, where there were no rocks, I knew how to pick the best fording spot, and get across safely, and so did those I taught.
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