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Crossing creeks

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:06 am
by balzaccom
So let's talk about crossing a stream. Not a river, but a tumbling little stream full of rocks and boulders.

I tend to rock hop across, a skill developing over decades of fly fishing in the Sierra. I can't dance a lick, but I can glide from one rock to the next quickly and seemingly without effort. My wife, on the other hand, struggles a bit with streams. She uses hiking poles, which help her balance, but she takes a slow, cautious, and even a bit fearful approach. This despite the fact that she dances with great elegance and style, and can never figure out why I am such a klutz on the dance floor.

So on our last trip into the wilds of Yosemite, I struck out across each stream and hopped across easily. My wife took much longer, slowly picking her way along. At least, until the last crossing of Bridalveil Creek, just a mile or two from the trailhead. In this case, she had really worried about this creek on the way over, and I was determined to find an easier way for her to cross.

So instead of carelessly hopping from rock to rock, I gently eased out onto a larger boulder, sat down on it, and then worked my way around to the other side, where I would reach a series of smaller stones and walk across. All went swimmingly (!) until it came time for me to push off the larger rock with my right foot. The bottom of that hiking boot had become wet in the process, and when I pushed off, it immediately slipped off the rock and threw me face first into the stream.

My wife hid her delight with expressions of concern, then walked twenty feet downstream where she carefully picked her way along a series of small flat rocks successfully. With bruises on both knees and wet feet to boot, I hiked the last two miles with a severely bruised ego.

Re: Crossing creeks

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:13 am
by rlown
For me, if the stream is deeper than the boot (gortex lined), the boots come off and the tevas go on. One bad rock could twist an ankle, so I don't even risk it anymore; done that twice and I don't like it.

At least you have a sweet memory :) Great story..

Re: Crossing creeks

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 4:26 pm
by RoguePhotonic
Pretty straight forward for me. Either there are logs or enough rocks not spaced too far apart to make it across or I have to put on my water shoes and head across.

Re: Crossing creeks

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 5:35 pm
by Wandering Daisy
Dancing is not necessarily related to rock hopping across a stream. Your wife has balance, rhythm and grace on the dance floor because the risk of serious injury is low. We females probably are a bit more cautious than you fellows. I have had three fairly serious injuries while slipping on wet rocks so I prefer to wade across unless it is super easy to hop the rocks. On the contrary, I have no problem with fairly difficult rock hopping in a boulder field. I also tend to get vertigo if I look at running water. Also does not help that I am the world's worst swimmer and really am afraid of water.

I seem to fall flat on my face, sometimes in the middle of a stream, at least once every year. Always seems to happen when some stranger is watching. How embarrassing! Not sure why, but after several days out solo not seeing anyone, I get really flustered when surprised by another human, lose my concentration, and fall down.

Re: Crossing creeks

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:21 pm
by RoguePhotonic
Always seems to happen when some stranger is watching.
More than once I have been waiting for someone to make a crossing and they go falling off into the water normally followed up by me with a huge OOOHHHHHHH!!!! Then I normally joke to them that I wasn't supposed to see that. :D

Re: Crossing creeks

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2015 7:31 pm
by maverick
WD wrote:
Always seems to happen when some stranger is watching

Or talking to someone instead of concentrating on the task at hand, crossing the stream. Worse
then embarrassment, now I have wet socks, trail runners, and pants with 30 min's of light left,

Re: Crossing creeks

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:18 am
by kpeter
A few years ago, early in a cross-Sawtooths trek in remote Idaho, I crossed a babbling stream no more than six feet wide. I stepped on a large stable rock--it was literally a step-across situation. The rock turned out to be slippery, I lost my balance, and my pack pulled me backwards into the stream. While the stream was small, there was a relatively deep pool next to the rock. I fell backwards and headfirst into water that was about three feet deep. I took a breath, felt the water close over my head and waited for an impact. The impact never came, the water simply pillowed my fall and it was just deep enough that I did not strike bottom. I was able to slip the pack, crawl out of the pool, and fish my gear out. My camera was destroyed. That, fortunately, was the only damage.

If I had hit my head on the way into that pool, I would have drowned in a stream that seemed completely unthreatening.

I have not given up rock hopping by any means, but am far less carefree about doing it now. I have an efficient wading routine and now wade regularly.

Re: Crossing creeks

Posted: Tue Apr 14, 2015 4:52 pm
by RoguePhotonic
Thankfully the only time while backpacking that I have fallen in a creek in any serious way minus the occasional foot slip in is when I tried to cross on a small log and the bark began falling off on me while I was out in the middle. The thing was like ice under the bark and I tried to turn back but did not make it and had to leap off into the creek landing upright about knee deep in water.

Aside from that a year or so before I started backpacking I wasn't so much crossing a creek as I was hiking down one. I was with some people and rounding a small ledge on the face of a rock about 6 feet above the creek. I made a comment to them that this really wasn't a place you want to fall in and the second I finished saying that I slipped off and back flopped directly in the middle of the only pool that was there and was unharmed. A foot in either direction and I probably would have been hurt badly landing on the rocks.