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High Water

Questions and reports 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.

Re: High Water

Postby maverick » Fri May 06, 2011 6:18 pm

Rlown wrote "I think i'll stick to just hiking up-stream to find a reasonable place to cross."
Ditto
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Re: High Water

Postby kpeter » Sat May 07, 2011 5:18 am

corozco wrote:um.... there ARE solutions, like:

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

but that requires the skills and investment


Wow. I had no idea. And while three pounds is a lot, it would be great fun to have along for those "bring the kitchen sink and set up basecamp" types of packtrips--particularly at a large lake with islands.

But I'm not at all sure I would ever use such a thing to ford a stream. If the water were so deep and swift that this was the only way, then I would be squeamish about trusting it. I'm thinking, for example, if there was anyplace in Jack Main Canyon last June where I would have used a raft like this to cross Falls Creek, and as I think about it, the answer would be an emphatic no.

By the way, Colin Fletcher's 8 pages on river crossings was probably the most controversial section of the original Complete Walker. He was forced to add warnings of various sorts in subsequent editions. For easy crossings he recommended the fastest stretches because they are shallowest, he used the barefoot method (although he discussed the boots on--socks off method). He crossed the Colorado by using his air mattress as a floaty and wearing his backpack with one arm yoked. Later he switched to taking an inflatable life vest and floating his pack across. Apparently people tried these techniques in the Sierras and nearly died because of the water temperatures.

I always pack a fresh garbage bag and when crossing dicey situations I simply line my whole pack with it and seal it shut. The one and only time I fell my pack floated and nothing got wet. My camera, stupidly, was on the outside and was destroyed.
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Re: High Water

Postby Cross Country » Sun May 08, 2011 10:23 am

Whenever I went on a trip with high water I knew it before I left home. My personal preference was to cross in tennis shoes. At least twice I encountered a dangerous crossing and turned around hiked out and went to an alternative destination. For potential dangerous crossings I always had alternative destinations.

This place in mid summer is normally DRY!
This is above Eleanor Lake, and it's not a named creek. Kendrick's was massive.
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Re: High Water

Postby Cross Country » Mon May 23, 2011 2:52 pm

In the year of the picture above, there was not as much water as this year (2011).
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Re: High Water

Postby Mike M. » Tue May 24, 2011 6:09 pm

Wow! This is what we've been talking about . . .

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Re: High Water

Postby loach » Wed May 25, 2011 3:05 pm

Jimr wrote: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.


Mirror Lake SEEMS calm, but these two, fortunate, tools could use some basic knowledge that is contained in this thread :soapbox:


http://youtu.be/JsTk6tRXDFo

http://youtu.be/ruKgQknl9sY
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Re: High Water

Postby richlong8 » Fri May 27, 2011 2:10 pm

A lot of great advice here, interesting reading. One thing that I like to do when fording is to extend the length of the trekking poles out as far as possible. It makes it seem like a more secure tripod to me- 3 points in solid contact for balance, like climbing. If can safely ford- I prefer that to a narrow wet log, or jumping from slippery rock to slippery rock to avoid getting my feet wet. But that is just my preference for balance now that I am in my 50's. I don't normally carry water shoes so I just take my socks off, and walk across in hiking boots if the water is high. When in doubt, I find a safer place to cross, especially if I am solo. Better men than me have died crossing these rivers in the peak of snowmelt.....
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Re: High Water

Postby KathyW » Sun May 29, 2011 8:21 am

richlong8 wrote:A lot of great advice here, interesting reading. One thing that I like to do when fording is to extend the length of the trekking poles out as far as possible. It makes it seem like a more secure tripod to me- 3 points in solid contact for balance, like climbing. If can safely ford- I prefer that to a narrow wet log, or jumping from slippery rock to slippery rock to avoid getting my feet wet. But that is just my preference for balance now that I am in my 50's. I don't normally carry water shoes so I just take my socks off, and walk across in hiking boots if the water is high. When in doubt, I find a safer place to cross, especially if I am solo. Better men than me have died crossing these rivers in the peak of snowmelt.....


I'm with you. I don't typically carry water shoes, but I often take my shoes/boots off and cross creeks in my bare feet using a hiking pole for added stability instead of going across on a log. Log crossings scare me. For me, high water crossings are one of the scariest things to deal with in the backcountry.

On the note about water shoes, I was given a pair of Columbia Drainmaker shoes recently. I wore them in a wet canyon on a warm day and sloshed through all the water I could instead of trying to avoid water. The shoes never felt water logged and they dried up pretty quickly after I got to camp. These might work for the lower elevations on early season Sierra trips where I have creek crossings. I'll just carry my boots for when I get higher and into the snowy sections. I've worn hiking shoes and carried the mountaineering boots until I need them on trips before, but the shoes I wore down low weren't as light or as good for water as these new shoes. I tend to believe the saying that it's better to have the weight on your back than on your feet - at least for me, I notice extra weight more when it's on my feet than on my back.
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Re: High Water

Postby maverick » Sun May 29, 2011 8:57 am

Hi Kathy

Welcome to HST!
Rich was saying he takes off his socks, and then hikes across the stream in his boots, not
bare footed.
Personally I think crossing a stream or river bare footed is pretty risky, and would
only consider doing it if the bottom was sandy, and even then only if I lost my teva's.
All it takes is loosing your balance, miss-stepping on to an extremely sharp or pointy
rock, and you will severely cut open the bottom of your foot.
I have seen this happen, and if you hike solo or are hiking through a very remote area
it makes this mistake even more dangerous.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination, and where the trail ends is where our adventures begin.

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 KathyW » Mon May 30, 2011 11:21 am

maverick wrote:Hi Kathy

Welcome to HST!
Rich was saying he takes off his socks, and then hikes across the stream in his boots, not
bare footed.
Personally I think crossing a stream or river bare footed is pretty risky, and would
only consider doing it if the bottom was sandy, and even then only if I lost my teva's.
All it takes is loosing your balance, miss-stepping on to an extremely sharp or pointy
rock, and you will severely cut open the bottom of your foot.
I have seen this happen, and if you hike solo or are hiking through a very remote area
it makes this mistake even more dangerous.


Sorry Maverick, but I'd rather cross a creek in my bare feet than go over it on a slippery log. It doesn't take much to loose your balance or slip on on a wet or loose log either. Now, a nice fat dry stable log is a different story. The main point is that creek crossing can be dangerous when the water is high.
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