- Nov 25, 2019 at 10:18 pm #3620421Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
Three pretty good videos on safer river crossings. People may disagree on some of the specifics, but these flics don’t recommend anything bad. Ideally, you’d take a river safety course to experience these lessons first hand.
How to Safely Ford Backcountry Rivers – CleverHiker.com (7:56)
Covers several common scenarios. Note that crossing log jams is extraordinarily dangerous!
Get Outdoors – Expedition – #20 Cross a River Safely (3:15)
Summary of river crossing advice from the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council.
Be River Safe (54:37)
Much more comprehensive look at river dynamics and safety from Water Safety New Zealand, it’s worth watching through to the end, despite some repetition. I learned a couple of tricks from this one.
— RexNov 26, 2019 at 1:07 am #3620447
“I meant scanning downstream for potential hazards anywhere you choose to cross. If you get swept off your feet, what happens next? Bad: swept under logs or into brush; also bad: swept into gnarly rocky areas, rapids, or waterfalls. Almost as bad: the river or creek disappears around a corner and you don’t know what’s down there.”
100% agree. SOP, including walking downstream if there is a bend in the river, to check out what is there.Nov 26, 2019 at 1:13 am #3620448
“I tried the same thing with snow on rocks, late in the season. The snow was continuous, but the rocks weren’t.”
This is a serious problem in all mountain ranges in spring. The snow looks normal, but has melted away from boulders/talus below. There is often no way to tell what is below the surface of normal looking snow, but if you punch through, you are vulnerable to very serious injury. I generally avoid off trail routes where talus fields are present for this reason.Nov 26, 2019 at 1:20 am #3620449
Who knows what’s underneath.
We were struggling across The Rolling Grounds (in Oz) on skis, and the going was a bit hard. Sue thought she would take her skis off and walk. She went straight down into the bushes between two big boulders. No injury, but getting back up onto the surface was … difficult.
CheersNov 26, 2019 at 1:31 am #3620451
“She went straight down into the bushes between two big boulders. No injury, but getting back up onto the surface was … difficult.”
She was fortunate. Q.E.D.
CheersNov 26, 2019 at 1:49 am #3620453idesterBPL Member
@doug-iLocale: The Cascades
Consider getting a 4×4 for your backyard and practice walking across that. Wet it down too. Also, though it sounds like it would be meaningless, I’ve found that lightly pressing my tongue against the top of my mouth helps me better keep my balance.Nov 26, 2019 at 2:40 pm #3620493Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
or, walking on a curb is good balance, builds up some of those muscles. If I’m just walking along wherever, there’s often a curb that I can walk on.
tongue on roof of mouth? weird. I’ll have to try that.Nov 26, 2019 at 4:03 pm #3620501Paul WagnerBPL Member
@balzaccomLocale: Wine Country
In answer to the OP’s question, yes, when we are working on trail crews, sometimes we fell a tree to create a log crossing. I’ve never done this over a small stream…it’s just easier to wade or rock hop (another great way of getting hurt!) But here is a photo of a tree we took down to span a large creek that would be impassable for much of the early summer. This tree now makes another five-ten miles of canyon accessible to hikers. In general, we look for dead trees that are already in the right position–because moving a fallen tree is beyond the abilities of a small trail crew.
This one fell pretty much exactly where we wanted it. And it’s big enough and wide enough to walk across more or less safely. And it’s high enough to be above high water in the creek. WE stabilized it with additional rocks to remove any vibration or wobble. And even after we worked for a couple of hours to install this, at least two of our crew preferred wading to walking over this log bridge.Nov 26, 2019 at 9:45 pm #3620555Bob .BPL Member
@bcbobLocale: Vancouver Island
The Sharp End Podcast — American Alpine Club
“….near Tuolumne Meadows, high in Yosemite National Park, when he came across a swollen creek and decided to cross it before setting up camp. What happened next left Marcus all alone, with no gear, 15 miles from the nearest road….”Nov 27, 2019 at 1:29 am #3620575
“And even after we worked for a couple of hours to install this, at least two of our crew preferred wading to walking over this log bridge.”
It looks to be an easy one to shimmy across on your butt, at least at the current water level. Come spring might be another matter entirely.Nov 28, 2019 at 3:56 am #3620748lisa rBPL Member
This summer I was going solo on a little used trail (so waiting for other folks for support wasn’t an option). After carefully stepping out a foot or two onto a damp, fairly high log a few times, and then each time retreating to safety, I finally decided the only reasonably safe option was to straddle it and drag myself across. It wasn’t pretty, nor comfortable, nor very easy to do. I had several scrapes and bruises after and it still didn’t feel entirely safe, especially with my pack on my back, but it was better than trying to walk across a slimy, bumpy log over rushing water. Not my favorite part of an otherwise excellent trip.Dec 4, 2019 at 5:53 am #3621448Adam GBPL Member
I am cursed with both terrible balance and a fear of rushing water. If I encounter a log crossing with any threat of serious injury, I scoot across it on my butt. It’s slow and tiring, but very straightforward with no branches in the way. With branches in the way, it becomes much harder. If there are branches, I usually go on all fours and carefully slide my way through them. The most important thing to do is make sure is that everything is strapped down on your pack and nothing is sticking out. I almost got pulled off when an ice axe got stuck on a branch.
For a 20 foot log, it can take me 5 minutes to cross which is embarrassing when my friends just hop right across it. I don’t care. I like being alive.
If I ever encountered a log that really sketched me out, I would search upstream and downstream for somewhere to cross, either on a log or straight through. If I can’t find anything, I don’t cross and terminate the trip.Dec 15, 2019 at 1:46 am #3622898Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I dreaded the log crossing on the Suiattle River on the PCT for hundreds of miles. I did it like I do all similar logs. It was a log without a lot of branches. It was pretty big and pretty high off the water with a little bit of loose bark still on. I first took off my pack and stuffed everything in my pack down and cinched all the straps so that nothing was loose. I tightened the hip belt so that the pack would not swing or bounce or move away from my body at all. I had trekking poles, thankfully. I walked with one foot in front and I’d sort of take a step with the front foot, and another step with the back foot, but I never put the back foot in front. I told myself not to look at the water under any circumstances. Don’t look. Don’t get dizzy. I inched across, using my poles in front of me for balance. As soon as I got close enough to the other side, I lunged for it and made it. Whew!
If it’s anything scarier than that, I try to find some other way. Once I hiked over 2 miles on the wrong side of the creek, crossing numerous side creeks that were also swollen and difficult, until I was able to cross on an easy log over a much smaller creek. What a pain in the butt. I freaked out the whole 2 miles. Like major freakout.Thankfully I wasn’t alone because it was the other guy’s idea to go that far on the wrong side. He saved me from myself.Dec 15, 2019 at 4:32 am #3622904
A tale of a log crossing.
It started out as part of a local walk which became very popular. The walk crossed an estuary, and the water was a bit deep at high tide. You had to go up the estuary to where the rocks marked the transition from salt water to fresh, and cross there. So ‘they’ built a bridge, with logs.
Somewhere I have a photo of the bridge before they added a hand rail to it. Not sure it even had the decking at the start either.
Actually, the ‘logs’ were very big power poles, and they were brought in by a military helicopter as part of an ‘exercise’. Well, that was the public explanation, anyhow. :) You just have to know the right person.
But as you can see, over the years the logs weakened and the logs sagged.. Whether groups of teenage males made things worse by all jumping up and down at the middle of the span, to see what would happen – who can tell. But eventually, ‘happen’ it did.
Most unfortunate. Back to fighting your way up the side of the estuary. What to do? Well, first plan something, then get committee approval, then get it into the budget for the next year, then see about doing it. This takes several years when it comes to politicians and Councils. But eventually, with great joy, we have a new ‘log bridge’ (Cost of replacement $490,000, but I have no idea how they managed to spend all that).
Actually, you can SEE that a committee was involved. The bridge is quality galvanised steel – good. The supports are timber poles! Don’t want to go overboard with public money after all.
CheersDec 15, 2019 at 9:21 pm #3622972
“but I have no idea how they managed to spend all that”
Likely to make it teen age male proof. ;-)
CheersDec 15, 2019 at 10:46 pm #3622986Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
I guess they never met a teen age male pyromaniac or the bridge supports would be made from concrete.
— RexDec 15, 2019 at 11:23 pm #3622991
“I guess they never met a teen age male pyromaniac or the bridge supports would be made from concrete.”
Let’s hope your post doesn’t get read by some wannabe Down Under looking for a way to impress his peers. ;-)Dec 16, 2019 at 12:22 am #3622994
I was more worried about marine rot – worms, algie etc.
CheersDec 17, 2019 at 8:13 pm #3623218Jenny ABPL Member
@jenniferaLocale: Front Range
There is some really helpful advice on here. I had never thought about crossing downstream from a log and using it to hang onto. Hmmm, that has potential. I really loathe log crossings also. Fortunately, many of the places I go are high up enough that if I can’t jump the creeks, I can wade them. Most of the time that is preferable to trying to balance with a pack and high center of gravity while suspended several feet about a rocky stream.
One of the three most butt-puckering experiences I ever had was on an Outward Bound course in the San Juan Mts. of southern Colorado in June after a very high snow year. All the streams were raging bank-full. One particular creek we had to cross was about 10 ft across with a nasty log suspended about 5-6 ft above the high gradient water. Most of the group scooched across, but when I tried to do that, I got hung on a knot and flipped upside down. No one could do a thing to help, and I remember thinking I was too young to die and now what the hell. To this day I (a) do not know how I regained the right side of the log and (b) do know that I don’t like scooching.
I would go to great pains to NOT cross some logs.
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