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hunterofelke
Roland



Joined: 04 Aug 2020
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Location: Issaquah
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Roland
PostSun Feb 07, 2021 9:26 am 
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I am considering hiking to a lake and it requires fording a creek and since I am wanting to hike to the lake in winter, I am asking how others ford during these cold times.  I was at the fording site this sat.  (2/6/2021) and since it rain almost every day this week, I didn't even consider crossing.  The water level looked about knee high, but looking into water can be deceiving.  As I walked back from the creek I met three young men who asked me about the water level, but didn't seem concerned.  They were all wearing rain clothes and boots.  I didn't think to ask how they were going to ford the creek, did they just walk through with water proof boots and rain pants creating a seal around the boot?  Or did they just Ranger up and get wet.
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meck
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PostSun Feb 07, 2021 11:54 am 
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This is just my 2 cents/limited experience. You can find lots of good stuff online about how to ford creeks, what dangers to look for etc.  I've done most of my fording of larger creeks and shallow rivers during summer hikes, but a couple during late winter/early spring (water only slightly above freezing).  My experience has generally matched your expectation in that the water has usually been a bit deeper than it looked. (I apologize for the wall of text, I'm guessing you already know most of this)

1. It's good that you've already seen the location.  I like to get an idea of how it could change while I'm out hiking (e.g. how much could the creek increase in depth if it rains while I am beyond the ford and have to cross it later).
2. I've been bringing water shoes and a small camp towel since I can spare the weight.  I have usually just gotten my feet wet (when I was crossing anything deeper than about 3"), and taken off my boots to tie to my pack.  I got tired of slipping while rock-hopping and soaking my entire boot(s)).  The traction of the water shoes has helped a lot; I found the rocks in creeks and small rivers to often be much more slippery than I expected (doubly so when you can't feel your feet because they are quickly turning into numb stumps).
3. I found trekking poles for balance while crossing are super useful.
4. Allow plenty of time to locate a good crossing location (the trail spot may not always be the best), and to actually cross (and dry off, put footwear back on).  You can often find a better (shallower, or slightly slower moving) location upstream or downstream a couple dozen yards.
5. Be careful about packing down snow near the edge of the crossing (and not slipping into the creek), as you've probably noted the snow and ice can overhangs the edges by feet depending on snow depth and location.  Make sure you could climb back out of the creek in barefeet and with soaking wet hands/sleeves (assuming worst case scenario of slipping in and soaking your self).  I partially fell into Royal Creek in late December a few years back when the ice I was standing on the edge gave way.  It was a damp squishy walk back to the Upper Dungy TH even after ringing out the socks and boot insoles....

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Mike Collins
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PostSun Feb 07, 2021 12:21 pm 
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Meck has great suggestions. Fording creeks in winter has added risks and I recommend having a partner. Unbuckle your waist belt. I have worn neoprene socks in addition to the wading shoes. If you leave your shoes and socks on the bank they will be frozen when you return. It saves time to just leave them in the water and mark the site. Depending on the creek I have worn my helmet for some fords as it will be lights out if you crack your head on a rock. If the crossing is iffy I have done a recon crossing without my back to determine the feasibility/safety and then recrossed the same line to retrieve my pack.
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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
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Location: Now Undertermined
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seeking tailwind
PostSun Feb 07, 2021 12:31 pm 
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My take, the only difference between winter and summer fording is the aftermath. Glacier run off creeks in the summer are essentially the same temperature as a winter creek....somewhere just above freezing. In summer I just proceed through the creek with no alterations, then continue trucking on the other side as my clothing and trail runners soon dry out. Once in winter I rolled up my pants and wore thick wool socks across a wide but fairly shallow river/creek. Then I just wrung out the socks, put on new ones and donned the shoes again, rolled down the pants. If I am anticipating many fords I like to use a zpacks staff, as I can probe ahead before stepping and use two hands on the staff for stability. Otherwise the trekking poles work OK. Practically, there's no way to keep your feet dry on a ford so don't bother. I've never had problems with the feet being OK after a ford; a little squishy at first but soon after things dry. This will not work for heavy boots.

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Cyclopath
Faster than light



Joined: 20 Mar 2012
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Faster than light
PostSun Feb 07, 2021 12:56 pm 
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Backpack: loosen the straps and undo the waist belt.  Be ready to drop the pack if you fall.

Water shoes: get something with toe protection.
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GaliWalker
Have camera will use



Joined: 10 Dec 2007
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Have camera will use
PostSun Feb 07, 2021 1:52 pm 
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Definitely water shoes! Not only do they protect your feet and provide better traction, they will also allow you to cross much faster, thus reducing how much time you spend in the water.

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Randito
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PostSun Feb 07, 2021 4:22 pm 
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Bring full sized foam pad to sit on to change shoes.
Wet suit booties or wet suit socks + water shoes greatly reduce discomfort.

Complete change  of clothes in a dry bag in case you dunk.
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timberghost
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PostSun Feb 07, 2021 4:26 pm 
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Overboots hodgman and Wiggy's make some. Used them many times in fall and Winter.
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