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How to Cross Rivers and Streams When Hiking

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Fond of hiking or backpacking? Here are helpful precautions for you. Have a safer and more fun experience by following these steps.

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How to Cross Rivers and Streams When Hiking

  2. 2. Several things to consider when crossing moving water : 1. Cold Water = Possible Hypothermia 2. Shallow waters = Faster current 3. Faster currents = getting swept off of your feet 4. Invisible hazards of the river can be just as dangerous
  3. 3. Things to look for the best crossing areas:  Level ground with several channels.  Upstream of shallow bank or sandbar.  Choose a course across that will allow you to cross at about a 45 degree angle.
  4. 4. Here are a few items to look out for hazards that will hurt your crossing :  Obstacles on the opposite bank that will hinder you getting across  Upstream of deep channels or waterfalls  Rocky places - slipping  River estuaries (empty to bigger bodies) Rock ledges – rapids indicated by water changes perpendicular Eddies – Current behind an obstacle with ever changing direction
  5. 5. Deep Swift Rivers Tips:  Swim WITH the current.  Keep your body horizontal as much as possible. This reduces your chances of getting pulled by an eddy current.
  6. 6. Fast Shallow Rapids Tips:  Lie on your back with toes pointed downstream.  Place your hands by your hips and fin them to guide and help avoid obstacles.
  7. 7. Deep Rapids Tips: Lie on stomach Point head downstream and toward the opposite shore Stay away from converging water or obstacles because they cause eddies and swirls
  8. 8. Swift Treacherous Streams Tips :  Remove clothing except your shoes to reduce drag.  Tie it into a bundle and attach to your pack or shoulders.  Make sure you can remove the pack if the water catches it, so you don't get pulled.  Use a pole at about your height (ideally 6-7 ft). Place it upstream on the ground. It will break the incoming current and place a downward force on you.  Take small steps and keep good footing.
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