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The Wilderness Survivor, Issue #003 - Wading across
August 02, 2004
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Best Regards Erik C. Falk
Editor - The Wilderness Survivor

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Table of contents

- Editor's Notes
- Wading across
- Content has been updated

Editor's Notes

Hello ,

Iím back from my 8-day backpacking trip. In my last newsletter I pointed out how important itís to check the weather forecast before you head out for the wilderness. The weather forecast indicated rain for the first day but it happens to be almost four daysÖBackpacking in fine weather is an enjoyable experience. Backpacking in rain and windy weather is, if not an unpleasant experience, something that will test your patience. Particularly if it rains for several days in a row Ö

Most of my backpacking trips, and also this time, is in barren mountain terrain above the tree line. So if the weather is rough you really depend on your gear. High quality and superb functionally is a must. Visit the outdoor equipment page to get some good tips! Perhaps the most important choice in equipment is your boots, at least if you go backpacking or hiking. The perfect complement to hiking boots are sandals, both if the weather is sunny and dry or if itís raining a lotÖ In the mountains heavy rain very fast turn small rivers into big rivers. Small streams on the map can be difficult to cross and sometimes also a bit risky. Particularly if you donít do it right - Continue to read and learn how to safely cross rivers.

Enjoy your reading!

Have a safe and fun wilderness trip - Respect and protect the wilderness !

Don't forget that wilderness survival skills and learning is a powerful and exhilarating experience.

Get your copies of the The Survival Guides

Your next wilderness adventure travel will give you even more enjoyment because of your greater knowledge.

Wading across

Crossing rivers and waterways, especially those with cold, deep water or swiftly flowing current, can be very challenging and dangerous for even the most experienced wilderness tripper.

In selecting a spot to cross a river, look for a slow-flowing, obstruction-free section. Wide, relatively straight sections are generally shallower and less swift than narrow areas and sharp bends. Check the opposite bank to make sure it will be easy to clamber up.

Avoid wading across swift-water areas that reach above your knee, as foot entrapment and subsequent drowning is a real hazard in strong current. Never underestimate the power of running water. Use a stick to aid balance.

If there is any doubt about your ability to safely negotiate a crossing in the location at-hand, don't try it. Instead, thoroughly scout upstream and downstream for a manmade bridge, natural bridge, or a safer fording area. Study your topographic map for a more promising spot.

Roll trousers up or take them off so you have them dry for the other side. Never bare feet. Itís to easy to hurt your feet and if the water is ice cold you lose your sense after 10-15 seconds. Keep boats on Ė or better change to sandals, and keep your boots dry. Sandals are easy to dry.

Undo the belt fastening of a backpack so you can slip it off if you get swept over, but donít let go of it, use it to help you right yourself.

Face upstream and slide feet along bottom. By facing upstream, or at least up-current, you'll be able to read the current as well as prevent the force of the water from buckling your legs at the knees. Do not stride : shuffle sideways, using the stick to test for depth and trying each foothold before using it.

Sometimes it's safest to simply get your feet wet and wade across a river instead of trying to stay high and dry on a slippery log or a series of unstable, slimy rocks. If you elect to cross on logs or rocks, a walking stick can reduce the chance of a slip and fall.

Cross with a partner

If you are a group. Wade one at a time. Donít hold each other. If one falls, both will fall.

Crossings with ropes

In certain situations, a rope can be rigged from bank to bank as taut hand-line. Work your way across the river along the downstream side of the line. Never tie a rope to yourself as the force of the current will hold you underwater if you loose your footing.


Study the river or stream before crossing
Walk along the edge and look for the best possible place to cross.
Never enter the water unless there is no other way of getting across.
Choose a crossing point carefully. Look for wide, shallow areas with sand, gravel or cobble bottoms, which are usually safest.
Do not swim or wade through deep water, at low temperatures it could prove fatal.

Content has been updated

New more good content have been added to the Wilderness Survival Skills website.

The outdoor apparel page have been updated. Check it out!

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Written by Erik C. Falk


(c) copyright 2004

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