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Roberto Requena
(rrequena) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
How not to cross a river! on 06/29/2011 21:52:04 MDT Print View

Went out hiking a couple weekends ago and we got flooded by a flash flood of sorts. I took all the video I had and made a movie. If you want to see how NOT to cross a river there's a pretty hairy scene somewhere in the middle of the movie. Friend almost goes down the river and drowns. We should have known better but under estimated the water. Bad idea. We've rethought a few things after that trip. Thought it might be a funny video for people to see. I do wish we actually had video of us crossing the 5 different river sections successfully though...haha.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKwEQVc_Kb4

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
crossing rivers on 06/30/2011 07:34:14 MDT Print View

I'm glad you, and especially your friend, are ok. I can only imagine you've realize how close he came to dying when he got sucked under that strainer.

I also applaud you for being honest enough to put that online. You're going to deservedly get a lot of s$%@, but too many people sweep mistakes like that under the rug, which I don't think is productive (either for them or others).

It'd be too easy to harp on the obvious (crossing barefoot is really, really stupid), and the heart of the matter is whether your group ought to have stayed put instead of hiking out. I would hope that your SOs/emergency contacts would have been calm enough when they called the rangers to've not come running to get you. It's impossible to know without looking at a topo map of your route, but it seems likely that by the next afternoon the crossings might have gone down enough to be safe.

There are creativity points to be given on felling the trees, but in the modern age and so close to such a well-worn trail that action should be discussed in light of the impact it'll leave for others. There's also the issue of, knowing the terrain and weather forecast, if ya'll should have found another hike to do. But not knowing more about either, I'll leave it there.

Thanks again for posting this, obviously a highly relevant topic for this community.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"How not to cross a river!" on 06/30/2011 08:19:46 MDT Print View

Retarded.

That was pure rubbish, but you already knew that. Hopefully you rethought more than a few things. It's pretty clear from the video you guys have all the gear and look the part, but your actions on-screen were amateurish at best.

Be safe out there.

Ryan Tucker
(BeartoothTucker) - M
waiting on 06/30/2011 08:32:32 MDT Print View

What is your sense that waiting a day or two would have allowed the streams/rivers to return to a more normal flow?

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
river. on 06/30/2011 09:55:30 MDT Print View

Shucks. Where to begin? I assume that you had some emergency contacts, left them an itinerary and a plan of what to do, perhaps looked at the weather forecast ahead of time and thought about the creek crossings with lots of rain coming? How about hunkering down for a day and seeing what happened with the crossings (if the rain was to let up some)? I really hate to see five trees cut down just because you didn't plan your trip, or weren't willing to wait it out a little. Don't know all the details, so this is just speculation.

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: waiting on 06/30/2011 09:55:43 MDT Print View

Felling all those trees seemed...unnecessary. (Also you happened to find a random axe? That was honed enough to chop down trees? That part seems bizarre.) It's important to back up sometimes before you commit to a plan of action. If you hadn't been so focused on crossing, you would probably have been able to consider your choices more logically. I say this as someone who has done dumb things that luckily didn't turn too dangerous.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
cross on 06/30/2011 09:57:54 MDT Print View

i wouldnt have crossed that raging river unless there was an absolute emergency

nor would i have felled live tress just to cross a river unless there was said emergency

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
How not to cross a river! on 06/30/2011 10:26:25 MDT Print View

Am I the only one concerned for the person standing in front of the guy swinging the axe? How not to cross a river! / How not to fall a tree!

Edited by thomdarrah on 06/30/2011 10:31:16 MDT.

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
How not to fell a tree... on 06/30/2011 10:44:42 MDT Print View

Yeah, I noticed that......

Roberto Requena
(rrequena) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: How not to cross a river! on 06/30/2011 10:49:41 MDT Print View

I definitely didn't expect any positive reviews of our adventure as I pretty much thought of everything you guys have said. We know we did a bunch of dumb things (barefoot crossing, axe, etc). In all honesty we should have just stayed put for a night, but we had two fathers in our group and being that it was fathers day the day we were supposed to hike out, they weren't about to not get home. I'm not saying that's a good reason to hack a bunch of perfectly good trees, but at the time there's wasn't much stopping the two dads once we found that axe.

In response to the axe finding seeming bizarre, I will agree with you there. It was bizarre. It was from a group that had put it under a tarp far away from the main campsite. I'm assuming that was someone's secret campsite, which sort of makes me feel guilty that we had to take their axe. We plan to hike that trail again and bring back the axe and put it back under the tarps. I'm not big on stealing peoples stuff.

Thanks for the comments regardless. We're really not as moronic as the video implies although it's hard to argue that at this point...haha.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
How not to cross a river! on 06/30/2011 10:56:25 MDT Print View

Being a father myself I feel it all the more reason to be well prepared and make sound and safe decisions. A dead dad is no dad at all.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: How not to cross a river! on 06/30/2011 11:48:44 MDT Print View

All the survival books point to overconfidence as a big killer with experienced people, let alone those who haven't tangled with things like the forces in flowing water. We had several rescues in Western Washington this Spring with people floating the local rivers. They get much more runoff on sunny days, just when people want to get out and have fun, making for a deadly combination.

The pressures on your body jammed against an obstruction in a river are huge. I've seen it fold up a boat like a toy. Having a canoe in the situation shown in the video wouldn't have been any help!

There is the old mining town of Monte Cristo in the North Cascades. There was a road to the town used by the property owners and Forest Service staff, but the bridges crossing the river near the highway washed out some years ago. There is a large log that people have been using to cross, but there is a sweeper less than a couple hundred feet downstream and that really scares me. There are a lot of big groups that hike the road, with small kids and older folk. If someone falls off the big log, they won't have enough time to react before they smash into the sweeper. I watched a father carry a toddler across the big log on his shoulders. If he fell, it would be instant disaster. The sweeper could be swung out of the way in 5 minutes with a chainsaw. Even the large log is dicey when the river is high and the water is close to the bottom of the log or even touching it--- fall on the high side and you're dead. I'm sure there are all kinds of legal issues with any improvements other than a proper foot bridge, but some sort of railing/handhold would be good on that log. With the current state of funding, many areas are in limbo this way.

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
hmmm. on 06/30/2011 12:16:39 MDT Print View

> In all honesty we should have just stayed put for a night, but we had two fathers in our group and being that it was fathers day the day we were supposed to hike out, they weren't about to not get home. I'm not saying that's a good reason to hack a bunch of perfectly good trees, but at the time there's wasn't much stopping the two dads once we found that axe.


Boy, that's really lame. Hopefully next time you all can do some actual planning, including thoughts about not going, going somewhere different, accounting for the weather, etc. before you head out, to make sure you make it home safe to those kids, and leave minimal trace (not maximum trace!) behind you.

Edited by rcaffin on 06/30/2011 16:13:34 MDT.

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
canoes and logjams on 06/30/2011 12:43:14 MDT Print View

> The pressures on your body jammed against an obstruction in a river are huge. I've seen it fold up a boat like a toy. Having a canoe in the situation shown in the video wouldn't have been any help!


Thanks for bringing this up; it reminded me I wanted to comment on that bit. I was once on a day trip on a river that had recently flooded (so, not flood stage, but with strainers everywhere), with people who shouldn't have been put in charge of a canoe (it was a rental). It was the worst trip of my life. There were other harrowing moments, but the worst was when this couple steered right into a strainer. The canoe flipped and got sucked under and they both disappeared. I thought for sure they weren't coming back up; when they did, I barely had time to be relieved before they swept past and capsized me by panicking and grabbing at my kayak. They weren't wearing PFDs, either. It was pure dumb luck they survived. A friend and I managed to free the canoe by dismantling the jam piece by piece till it broke up and the boat popped free--miraculously it was also unharmed except for a bent gunwhale. That in itself was dangerous; we spent over two hours hanging onto the thing working logs free. In retrospect we should have left it. The rental company would have recovered it when the water went down. So yeah; wishing for a canoe is not a particularly helpful wish!

That trip made me a lot more confident in speaking up if I have doubts about the conditions or someone's ability (including my own). I wasn't the trip leader or otherwise responsible for those two's safety, but I sure as hell never want to be on a trip where someone dies. It makes you think a lot more when you see it almost happen.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Hike Lightly and Wisely on 06/30/2011 12:47:07 MDT Print View

Roberto,

We all learn lessons through mistakes, keep getting out there on trips and seek ways to improve upon past experiences, both good and bad. On this trip, it seems you all became desperate and made some poor decisions with potentially grave consequences, unnecessarily, thankfully you all are safe.

Group trip dynamics can be tricky, a solid plan, exit strategy, solid leadership, and thorough understanding of the topography beforehand can help you avoid situations like the one you were in. With that said, those two fathers made a pretty foolish choice knowing their families were at stake- thrill seeking and machismo fist pumping with the bros isn't ever cool when you're getting back to the trailhead by the skin of your teeth.

Gabe P
(Gabe) - MLife
swinging the axe so close to his friend on 06/30/2011 13:35:21 MDT Print View

Wow! That was fun to watch, and painful at times -- like when the one guy was swinging the axe so close to his friend. I’ll bet you learned a lot about what not to do while backpacking on that trip. I encourage you to check out a wilderness safety course before your next big trip. Thanks for sharing

Andy F
(AndyF) - M
concern on 06/30/2011 14:29:52 MDT Print View

I'm concerned that Bear Grylls will see this video and attempt some of these things, which will get him injured or killed. You should put in a disclaimer for his sake.

:-\

Edited by AndyF on 06/30/2011 14:30:36 MDT.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: How not to cross a river! on 06/30/2011 18:16:49 MDT Print View

"Thanks for the comments regardless. We're really not as moronic as the video implies although it's hard to argue that at this point...haha."

OK, now that you've had a new one ripped for you, consider this: You screwed up alright, figured out a lot of the mistakes you made on your own, had a few others pointed out to you, or reinforced, here, and fortunately nobody got hurt, except for the trees. Believe it or not, you are not the first ones to screw up big time, although you are luckier than some who are now enshrined in The Darwin Hall of Fame, nor were your mistakes the biggest ones ever committed. I'd say call it a teaching moment and venture henceforth into the wilderness a wiser man, as have others before you. Lastly, like Dave C, I commend you on your braveness in submitting this for critiqueing, and for enduring the inevitable firestorm of criticism you knew would follow. You just might have saved someone here from doing something similar in the future. I hope you stick around. Folks are generally a bit more pleasant to deal with here.

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
family obligations weigh heavy, so on 06/30/2011 18:37:56 MDT Print View

Stay put.
Push "Ok" button on Spot.
Repeat as necessary.

Roberto Requena
(rrequena) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Re: Re: How not to cross a river! on 06/30/2011 21:31:00 MDT Print View

Thanks Tom, I appreciate those comments...and as I said before I appreciate everyone elses comments as well. I knew by posting this video I would get roasted a bunch so it was expected. I know for myself it was a learning experience and the others have said the same. We won't be making the same mistakes again and we will be more prepared in the future. We're off for another hike tomorrow morning for 4 nights. We are well prepared and the route is well thought out. I also invested in a Spot/DeLorme combo since our last extravaganza. Maybe it'll let me post on this forum that we're safe and not doing dumb things so some of you more harsh critics don't verbally rape me anymore. JK!

Thanks again to everyone. Posting the video on this forum is doing one of the things I was hoping it would do. Inform me on how to do things better and be a better hiker. To the people who've made constructive criticism and given pointers I thank you the most.