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#261079 - 06/01/13 04:47 PM Re: To cross a river ... [Re: dougwalkabout]
clearwater Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 952
Loc: Channeled Scablands
Basic rule of thumb - if the stream is above the knees, find another way.

If you are in the army and being shot at, more expedient and risky methods may be appropriate.

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#261097 - 06/02/13 06:00 PM Re: To cross a river ... [Re: Glock-A-Roo]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2564
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: Glock-A-Roo
I'll save you some time. Become a better swimmer.


Yeah, good advice. I have some talents, but swimming is not among them. frown Need to keep trying I guess.

For a river this size, I think even a decent swimmer would want some extra flotation to make it across comfortably. I have an approach that I can test under controlled conditions, if only to satisfy my curiosity on the subject.

Thanks for the feedback.


Edited by dougwalkabout (06/02/13 06:06 PM)

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#261110 - 06/03/13 08:10 PM Re: To cross a river ... [Re: dougwalkabout]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 5797
Loc: southern Cal
If you think that floatation might be useful, and there is a bridge about an hour away, the correct choice is pretty obvious.

I see by the papers that yet another visitor has gone over the brink at Nevada Falls, Yosemite National Park. Sigh....When will they ever learn?
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#261113 - 06/04/13 08:50 AM Re: To cross a river ... [Re: dougwalkabout]
Mark_M Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 295
Loc: New Jersey
I've swum across the Delaware River and back at least once a year for the past 25 years. The spot I normally cross is about 400 feet across, on a relatively straight and calm segment of river. I am not a particularly strong swimmer or otherwise athletic. I just take my time and plug away. Some days I've swum back-and-forth twice, once three times. Sometimes I've worn a dry bag style day pack with lunch, hiking shoes, socks, shirt and a towel. But usually I just swim for the pleasure of swimming and come right back.

When the current is calm I aim for a rock directly across from where I enter the water, so I actually have to angle upstream to compensate for the current. But when the current is moving more swiftly I just swim perpendicular to shore and wind up wherever the current leaves me, walking upstream so my return trip puts me more or less at my starting point. But there are also times when the current was too strong to attempt, or once I got into the swifter water in the middle realized it was too strong and turned back.

There are several other spots on the river where the current is usually calm enough to swim across, and one spot where you can practically walk across the entire river, except for one short 50 foot channel. You need to study the current at different spots across the river. It can be calm 50 feet from shore then moving quickly in the center. Watch the debris float by, look for ripples in the water.

I've also swam and waded across the Raritan River and South Branch of the Raritan River in NJ. I got cocky on the South Branch and tried wading across just a few yards from a low damn. Got about mid-thigh and found myself stuck by the force of the water. Couldn't lift my foot to take a step without getting knocked over. Wound up going over the damn, fortunately only about 2' high, but got several bruises from the experience. I learned my lesson and give falls and damns a wide berth.
_________________________
2010 Jeep JKU Rubicon | 35" KM2 & 4" Lift | Skids | Winch | Recovery Gear | More ...
'13 Wheeling: 8 Camping: 6 | "The trail was rated 5+ and our rigs were -1" -Evan@LIORClub

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#261118 - 06/04/13 01:32 PM Re: To cross a river ... [Re: Mark_M]
paramedicpete Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
Quote:
I got cocky on the South Branch and tried wading across just a few yards from a low damn. Got about mid-thigh and found myself stuck by the force of the water. Couldn't lift my foot to take a step without getting knocked over. Wound up going over the damn, fortunately only about 2' high, but got several bruises from the experience. I learned my lesson and give falls and damns a wide berth.


You were very lucky. Low head dams are known as drowning machines due to the hydraulics, in which there is a back flow (roller/backwash). This back flow (roller/backwash) causes the person, boat, etc., to recirculation within the roller/backwash. The only way I know of to break the pattern, is to go to the very bottom of the roller/backwash and try and catch the outflow. One problem is that is often where there is considerable debris in this area, which can be very large. Low head dams are designed to break up large objects such as logs to prevent damming of the river. Often there will be large grate-like structures to assist in the breakup.



Pete

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#261121 - 06/04/13 03:03 PM Re: To cross a river ... [Re: dougwalkabout]
Mark_M Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 11/19/09
Posts: 295
Loc: New Jersey
Pete, normally I would agree. But in this case the water was only around 3' deep on the upstream side and less than 18" on the downstream side. It was hand stacked rocks used just to make a pool for fishing/swimming. It was definitely a lesson-learned in terms of how powerful a seemingly small flow of shallow water can be.


Edited by Mark_M (06/04/13 03:03 PM)
_________________________
2010 Jeep JKU Rubicon | 35" KM2 & 4" Lift | Skids | Winch | Recovery Gear | More ...
'13 Wheeling: 8 Camping: 6 | "The trail was rated 5+ and our rigs were -1" -Evan@LIORClub

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#261128 - 06/04/13 06:03 PM Re: To cross a river ... [Re: Mark_M]
paramedicpete Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 04/09/02
Posts: 1920
Loc: Frederick, Maryland
I am glad you came out of it safely.

Pete

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#261214 - 06/09/13 06:14 PM Re: To cross a river ... [Re: dougwalkabout]
BruceZed Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 01/06/08
Posts: 289
Loc: Canada

Water Temperature will also make a big difference in how and if you can cross a water obstacle.

It may not seem like much, but this 'little creek' is very powerful and learning when and where you can cross a water obstacle is a life saving survival skill.

I just got stopped this week trying to cross a creek (Hummingbird Creek in the Eastern Slopes of the Alberta Rockies; Link to Google Map Location I took with my Spot) in the Rockies due to a Combination of High Water/Fast Flowing Water and Very Cold Water Temperature.

i.e. if the Water had been Warmer I may have pushed across anyhow in spite of the Fast Waist Deep Water. In this case it was so cold and I stopped a third of the way across. I actually tried slightly upstream of the picture where the creek broke up into two streams and I could find two locations to cross that were a little shallower. Good Scouting of better locations can make a difference but it this case it did not help.

Over time I have learned that if is is difficult to cross in the morning when the flow rates are slow, then it will be impossible to cross in the evening when you get back. This is a major factor as I consider a Water Crossing and or in this case decide to turn back once I enter the Water. I also unbuckle my pack, walk upstream when I cross, and use a staff for extra support when I cross.

Not stopping is a survival situation in the making. Many individuals and groups get trapped each year in the wilderness when flow levels change on hot spring afternoons.

Do not take the crossing of Water Obstacles lightly, each crossing will have its own potential problems and possible consequences, including the possibility of being swept down stream.
_________________________
Bruce Zawalsky
Chief Instructor
Boreal Wilderness Institute
boreal.net

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