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.
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richlong8
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Re: High Water

Post by richlong8 » Fri May 27, 2011 3:10 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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KathyW
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Re: High Water

Post by KathyW » Sun May 29, 2011 9:21 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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maverick
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Re: High Water

Post by maverick » Sun May 29, 2011 9:57 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.
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KathyW
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Re: High Water

Post by KathyW » Mon May 30, 2011 12:21 pm

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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rlown
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Re: High Water

Post by rlown » Mon May 30, 2011 1:59 pm

Feet are all you have. if you get a cut, you're done. If you don't like the log, put on some shoes and do it safely.

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BSquared
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Re: High Water

Post by BSquared » Mon May 30, 2011 6:32 pm

KathyW wrote: I'd rather cross a creek in my bare feet than go over it on a slippery log.
I don't think that's the right comparison. Maverick's point was that crossing the creek barefoot is more dangerous than crossing it with something on your feet; if you don't have water-specific shoes (I carry Nuthinz, which are like Crocs), it's a lot safer to put your boots on, with or without socks, and figure out how to dry them out later.
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Mike M.
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Re: High Water

Post by Mike M. » Mon May 30, 2011 8:47 pm

In higher than normal water, it is especially important to cross in boots (or tennis shoes or water shoes if you have taken the trouble to bring them along).

Personally, unless the stream is gentle and the streambed sandy, I always cross wearing my boots, minus my wool hiking socks (I leave the liner socks on). This is the safest method and believe it or not, your boots dry out quickly and it is not particularly uncomfortable hiking in them when they are wet.

I "discovered" this in 1975, the first time I hiked down The Enchanted Gorge and was forced into the creek to avoid a few gnarly patches during the descent.

Rlown is right, you take a big risk crossing barefoot. 1) it is much easier to slip and fall; 2) you can easily slice your feet up or turn an ankle and there goes your hike.

Mike

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KathyW
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Re: High Water

Post by KathyW » Mon May 30, 2011 8:50 pm

My original response was regarding log crossings; so that is the right comparison. I'm not trying to profess to be an expert on creek or water crossings or tell anyone else how they should cross over to the other side, but I'll continue to do what I'm comfortable doing.

Internet forums are always interesting - a good place to share opinions and knowledge, but not everyone is going to have the same opinions or experiences and we have to be understanding of that and not critical or defensive. Also, we often try to write like we speak, which doesn't work too well because the meaning gets lost without the intonations that go along with the spoken word.

Anyway, I think I can agree that high water crossings are dangerous with shoes, without shoes, on a log above the current, or any other way. If the water is really high then maybe the best decision is not to cross over to the other side.

Another thing I keep in mind is that the water is typically higher later in the day; so I might be able to cross in the morning but then I might not be able to come back across later in the day.

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Re: High Water

Post by BrianF » Thu Jun 02, 2011 8:12 am

Kathy, Thanks for the recommendation of the Columbia shoes, I have been thinking of getting some water shoes for this season. I'll have to check them out. I, too, am leery of wet log crossings, but also don't like getting my boots wet, so I have gone barefoot across a time or two. I concur with the opinion that that can be risky for your feet as well as (for me at least) feeling more vulnerable if I make a mistep or get buffeted about. I have never hurt my feet crossing barefoot but the potential is high. I did rip off a big toenail once on a backpack trip heading into the water for a swim and my foot slipped off one rock and under another- now that was painful and made for a long hobble out! I have never been one to carry additional shoes for camp or anything, but am considering it now, given the the late runoff season.
The direction you are moving in is what matters, not the place you happen to be -Colin Fletcher

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Re: High Water

Post by texan » Thu Jun 02, 2011 10:03 am

I am getting a new pair of shoes for the water this year.

Texan

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