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High Water

Discussion related to Sierra Nevada current and forecast conditions, as well as general precautions and safety information. Trail conditions, fire/smoke reports, mosquito reports, weather and snow conditions, stream crossing information, and more.
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Re: High Water

Postby RoguePhotonic » Sat Apr 09, 2011 12:46 pm

I learned the hard way that going barefoot across is no fun when I did my first week long hike. I did the High Sierra Trail in early June and the Big Arroyo was a roaring ford that was all rocks. I made it safely across but I learned that at least some type of shoes is important. I use the vibram five fingers now. They don't give allot of support to your feet but they grip like frogs feet on the rocks and they tend to keep your feet warm like a wet suit.

I'd add that with log crossings I have always found balance easier if you do side steps across it. Stand with your feet at say a 45 degree angle, move your forward foot well forward then just bring your back one to the front foot. I have seen too many people out on a log shaking because they are doing the slack line method of straight with one foot in front of the other. Also I would not look down more than is necessary to plan your next step. This is because when you look down and your trying to look at the log the moving water underneath you can throw off your sense of balance. I have had this happen many times even when I am in the water and crossing.



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Re: High Water

Postby maverick » Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:31 pm

Drowning is the number one in SEKI.
These stats due vary according to which park your in, for example drowning is not the
number one in a place like Death Valley, it is single car rollovers, would you have guessed
that?
In the Grand Canyon it is drowning in the Colorado River, in Glacier NP it is drowning, in
Yellowstone it is drowning, in Yosemite it is falling, and in the Great Smoky Mountain NP
it is auto accidents & drowning.
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Cross in a group

Postby gregw822 » Sun Apr 10, 2011 3:48 pm

I learned this in a white water rescue class. It works best with three. Form a triangle. Each person puts a hand firmly on the shoulder of each of the two partners. As a collective, you have six points of attachment on the bottom, and no more than one foot moves at a time. Works with two face-to-face, but three is much better.

The fly fishers, who use wading staffs regularly, will tell you to keep two out of three points (two boots and a staff) on bottom at all times.
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Re: High Water

Postby AlmostThere » Sun Apr 10, 2011 9:57 pm

To add to the list.

Sometimes trails (many in Yosemite do this, with all the rockwork along them) have a stream crossing it (some of the intermittents get pretty high!) -- there will be on some of these a staggered line of rocks clearly meant for rock hopping, variously submerged, slightly upstream of a pool on the upstream side of the trail, and some nice even rocks slightly or partially submerged along the downstream side along the dropoff. The nice even rocks are very tempting but I lectured someone just today out at Hetch Hetchy to take off the socks and wade instead of using anything wet and slippery near a very steep dropoff!
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Re: High Water

Postby gcj » Mon Apr 11, 2011 5:21 pm

Hi
Lots of great info here!

Something I learned the hard way as a beginner: keep toilet paper in a water-proofed container. I think a 'Zip-Locked' bag seems to work pretty well. I used to carry mine rolled up in a regular plastic food bag; it usually kept most moisture out. On one trip, however, I had a creek crossing mishap and the lower half of my pack became soaked. In camp, I was able to dry out my clothing and sleeping bag but, discovered to my horror that my roll of t-p was soaked to the core tube. :eek: Part of my camping ritual for the next several days was to oh-so-carefully unwind several squares of t-p strips and hang them from my tent and various trees around my camp to dry. I lucked out in that 1) I had enough sunny days before the next rain to dry out an adequate supply for the rest of my trip and 2) I didn't see another soul for several days so I didn't need to explain why my camp looked like I'd insulted a rival High School football team. :)

You should also consider protecting your electronics as well. (Cameras and GPS's) The same mishap that soaked my toilet paper also caused my brand new SLR to be dunked. I was able to open it and dry it out. Incredibly, it continued to work well and I used it for the next several seasons.
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Re: High Water

Postby Jimr » Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:39 am

Moving water is always twice as fast and twice as powerful as it looks. It's much better to over-estimate the force than to under-estimate the force.
What?!
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Re: High Water

Postby sparky » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:37 pm

Hmmm, looks like southern sierra is really warming up, and weather forecasts seem to indicate fairly stable weather patterns for a few weeks. It will be 50 degrees tomorrow at kaweah gap.
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True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
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Re: High Water

Postby mbrown » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:14 pm

When hiking with a group, the primary 'danger' with high water crossings I have experienced is the pressure which the group can exert on an individual to attempt something that on their own they would not try. I remember crossing where much heated negotiation went on between the
more ambitious versus the more cautious. The group should follow the desires of the most cautious
and if not the individual must follow what their gut is telling them.
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Re: High Water

Postby maverick » Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:24 pm

Hi MBrown

Welcome to HST!
Your are absolutely right, when hiking as a group, and encountering a dangerous
situation we should accommodate the less experienced, and not try to force them
or bully them into a possibly deadly situation.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: High Water

Postby SSSdave » Thu Apr 28, 2011 10:06 pm

During my early adult years, I did some rather difficult deep fords in cold water that gave me considerable incentive to avoid doing such again if at all possible. For many years, I've been notorious for jumping into cold water most every day during summer backpacking to clean off. And I've usually carried a thermometer to know how cold waters are. Anytime water is in the low 40s and below, it can be horribly debilitating if one has to be standing in it more than about 30 seconds. One swims in such water and immediately will realize how quickly a person can die by being rendered painfully numbing cold and unable to move.

One does not want to get into a situation crossing a thigh high fast moving stream where if one falls they might get stuck in log jams or tree branches on flooded banks just downstream. When two feet are on the bottom of a flowing stream one can brace against the bottom. But the deeper the water, the faster the current, the more difficult it is to lift up a foot thus loosing bracing leverage without the water carrying one away.

In my twenties I always crossed barefoot, because I didn't want to get my boots wet. Cold feet sliding between big stones on the bottom of streams can be a painful experience that may easily cause one to lose it and tip over. These days I carry my very lightweight and compact Wiggy's Waders that are good to about lower thigh depth.

Beware of estimating the depth of water near the opposite bank of a fast moving stream where water is pushing against that bank causing a stronger flow. It may look the same thigh depth one can see near your side but one will often be surprised to find after walking across, water twice as deep in part due to the optical illusion. It can be useful to have some large 2-mil plastic garbage bags to put items like sleeping bags into before gambling.

There is some equipment most of us wish to avoid taking a chance getting wet. A sleeping bag is at the top of most of our lists. A wet down bag is heavy to carry and difficult to dry out even in optimal sunny, warm, breezy conditions. On cool cloudy days, forget it. I also always have expensive camera gear. Sometimes in groups we will find a place where a stream is narrowest. Usually such places are still too wide to jump and much too fast and deep to ford. So we will toss sleeping bags and other stuff across. That can also lower the weight of gear left in a pack making crossing safer. Best to have someone on that side in case of a wimp throw. If one person gets to the other side and at such a narrow spot your bank is high and the other low, one may be able to use a rope with some caribiners to slide packs and what all across. Of course fording a difficult spot is far easier without hefting a heavy pack.
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Re: High Water

Postby corozco » Fri May 06, 2011 5:23 pm

um.... there ARE solutions, like:

https://www.alpackaraft.com/index.cfm?f ... ductID=126

but that requires the skills and investment
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Re: High Water

Postby rlown » Fri May 06, 2011 7:01 pm

wow. rafting a ford doesn't sound fun at all, given some i've seen. at 3.3lbs (then add a pfd), I might as well carry my wet suit, swim across, set up a line, and do it that way.

I think i'll stick to just hiking up-stream to find a reasonable place to cross.
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