Forget bears and lightning: The most common and dangerous backcountry hazard is a river crossing, especially during the spring melt, when backcountry waterways run high and rough. Follow these tips to learn to do it safely.
Mark crossings as you plan your route, and call ahead to check water levels. Carry a tide chart if you’ll be hiking coastlines.
Look for a different place to cross if you’re in deeper than your knees; scout downstream if you encounter rapids, waterfalls, or obstacles such as fallen trees.
Always cross a river at its widest point; narrow spots are deeper and faster. Check your map for forks, which contain less water and are potentially easier to cross. On glacial rivers, many braids mean easier wading.
Cross glacial rivers early in the day when possible, to avoid the higher runoff volume that comes with afternoon melting.
In muddy or silty rivers, lob a rock into the current; a hollow “ker-ploop” indicates deep, possibly dangerous water. If the rock moves downstream before sinking or you hear rocks rolling downstream, don’t ford, the current is too powerful.
Keep your boots dry by wearing sandals. Don’t have any sandals? Grit your teeth and go in with your boots, they’ll dry eventually. Only ford a sandy, gentle river barefoot. (While either waterproof or non-waterproof boots will work for river crossings, spring for non-waterproof if you have the choice. They’ll drain better, dry faster, and with the water topping the cuff, the membrane won’t matter anyway.)
Use trekking poles to balance and probe. For fast-moving water, cross at a slight angle, heading downstream but facing upstream. Lean slightly into the current, and step sideways.
Unbuckle your hipbelt before fording fast-moving rivers. You don’t want to get caught if you fall over.
For a difficult crossing, ford as a group with everyone locking arms. For three people, form a tripod (everyone facing in, arms locked) and shuffle across. Alternatively, if you have a sturdy rope, tie one end to a tree and send a strong party member across to tie off the other end. Clip in to cross; the last member brings the rope.
If you fall, don’t panic. Remove your pack if it hinders you from getting up. If the current takes you, flip on your back with your feet downstream. When you reach calm water, swim to shore.
Posted on Backpacker.com on February 19, 2021
(Sunday, February 28, 2021)
Good Morning everyone,
I am happy to announce that on Monday, March 1st, Niagara is moving to the Red-Protect Zone, and as such we will begin our 2021 hiking season! The Red Zone Guidelines allow us to have outdoor social gatherings in groups of up to 25. However, I will limit the upcoming hikes to groups of 15, with the first two hikes taking place on March 13th and March 20th. The hikes are posted on the events page and in the Upcoming Events below. Please remember, everyone must follow the Pandemic Protocols as listed in the Term & Conditions and those from Grey-Lockdown Zones are not permitted to attend. Did you know you can use the NAC Website's chat function to can chat in real time, leave messages for each other, and even send photos to each other! On the main menu, JOIN NAC>SITE MEMBERS to see a list of everyone with a profile, and use the CHAT BUBBLE in the corner of their profile to reach out. If you don't have a profile yet, use the Login Button at the top of the screen and click SIGN UP. When you log on to the web site, the chat window on the bottom right corner will show you if you have any messages waiting. If you have installed the Wix App on your phone and you are signed in to NAC, you will get notifications of incoming messages and can respond in real time! (Use the link at the bottom of this email to get the app). Recently, a couple of "hikers" visited Tobermory and decided to wander out onto the ice of the Georgian Bay. The ice proceeded to break up in large chuncks, as it generally does, and floated off into the vast bay taking the "hikers" with it. See the full story; Ontario Hikers Stranded on Ice Floe Rescued by OPP This year, due to the pandemic, and the boredom it caused, we have many new people wandering off in to nature. Unfortunately, many of them are unprepared, and have not done the proper research or sought the proper education before doing so, leading to a massive increases of rescues and deaths within the last 10 months. And so, with that, I would like to let everyone know, I am now offering a new service! Free Adventure Consultations. This service is for new and experienced outdoor adventurers that may need some friendly advice. This would be for questions on gear, clothing, techniques, self rescue advice, and more. It is not for information on destinations or to help you plan your trip. Even the best of us need advice from time to time. So please feel free to reach out before heading out on your next adventure or at anytime. The Georgian Bay Kayak Adventure is very popular, 8 of the 12 spots are already booked! Remember, Niagara Adventure Club Members get priority reservation until 7:00am on Saturday, March 20th, so if you're planning on attending, please get your spot soon. Simply reply to this email to let me know you wish to reserve your spot, and we will schedule a time to make your downpayment. For non-members, remaining spaces will open to the public, on a first come first serve basis at 5:00pm on Saturday, March 20th. The Superior Coastal Trail adventure is still in early planning stages. It will be a 6 day backpacking trip on some very difficult, but breathtaking, terrain. So keep an eye out for that. The dates will be approximately late July, early August.
That's all the news for this week. As always, stay safe, and happy hiking! Lenny Burch Niagara Adventure Club