As winter heads into hibernation or so we think, it’s the season of the year we could consider the transition period, which means that water crossings can be tricky. Do you dive in shoes first and bear soggy shoes? Or perhaps play frogger across the stream and dip maybe only one foot in? Or pick another strategy...
If you’ve stood in front of a stream deciding if that particular rock just a smidge too far is actually solid footing or going to be a banana peel, you‘re amongst many, of which few make the right call. And with good reason, there is really no way to tell. But there are some strategies that you can employ to curb swamp foot for the remaining 5 miles of your hike.
For us, we almost approach it in a ‘Game Theory’ systematic circular conversation that ultimately ends up with me venturing into the vast unknown of 1-foot-deep water.
But you have options.
1 | Forge Forward
Like you‘re on the Oregon Trail, narrowly avoiding dysentery and you must power through for your oxen health. Although it’s probably more like the Atari classic ‘Frogger.’ Hop on that rock, hope for the best, stay agile, stay balanced, and bend at the knees. While the boldest of all the approaches, should your gamble pay off, you live another step swamp foot free.
2 | Find Another Crossing
I’m pretty sure if it were just my wife out hiking, she’d choose this one. The most sensible approach of all of them. If you’re on the trail for 5, 6, or 7 miles, what’s another 100 or 200 yards down or up the stream? Sure there are a few sticks, rocks, and bushes you’ll need to navigate — it’s probably the best option. There will most likely be a better place to cross the river. A fallen log, larger rocks, or perhaps a narrower channel.
3 | Remove Thy Shoes and Socks
We’ve all seen that person, they are either the tough-as-steel military vet with a grey beard and tie-die bandana or the brave dad carrying his daughter across the river. True story, while I was playing ‘frogger,’ on the river, I turned around to see this brave soul giving a piggyback ride to his daughter knee-deep in what I imagine was 40 or 50-degree water. Here’s to you, Dad of the year, we salute you (tough as steel vet and I, of course).
The tough-as-steel vet might be onto something. Keep your feet dry. Spend a few extra minutes on side of the creek enjoying nature and taking a break while your feet dry. Not a bad idea. Perhaps we all need to slow down. And for the Dad, you’re a bad a$$, keep it up. Shout out to the real heroes. Not all wear capes.
Our vote is to hike a little further up or downstream and find the easier crossing. It’s there. We hope. But if all else fails, follow the tough-as-steel vet and hero dad, they know what they're doing.
Happy hiking! Get outside and enjoy the great weather before it‘s too hot.