How To Deal With River Crossings

Crossing rivers can be treacherous -- unless you know what you're doing.

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When planning a Tordrillos odyssey, there’s no guesswork up front about whether you’ll have to cross swiftly moving water. You will. Here are some considerations:

  • Locate the safest crossing point; wide and slow is better than deep, narrow, and swift.
  • Put must-stay-dry items like food, sleeping bag, and camera in waterproof bags.
  • Strip down to clothes you can afford to get wet, like your skivvies. Once across, hang them from your pack to dry and slip on dry duds.
  • Undo your pack’s hipbelt and loosen its shoulder straps so you can get it off quickly if you slip.
  • If you’re in a group, form a line parallel to the stream’s course.
  • Cross facing up-current with the tallest/strongest person upstream. Hang onto his or her pack.
  • Use a hiking staff to brace yourself when the current tries to push you over. Better still are a pair of trekking poles because four “legs” are more secure than three.
  • Move deliberately, making sure each foothold is secure before taking the next step.
  • When you get out, start walking to warm up


-S. Howe