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Thread: crossing creeks in sheep country

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    Default crossing creeks in sheep country

    So ok its been talked about before but seems to be a good thing to bring up just before sheep season. I asked in another thread but thought best not to hijack. I am always curious about footware choices for crossing creeks in sheep country. I hear a lot of guys that wear loosely fitting shoes,barefoot,all different ways. What I am wondering is do you think your choice in footwear make you less likely to cross deeper or faster moving streams. Not tryin to talk down about anyone choices just more curious then anything. I have crossed some creeks in my Koflach that I honestly couldnt imagine crossing in loose fitting shoes...

    Second part what are your tips and tricks for crossing and keeping safe that might help all the new sheep hunters out there.
    I will say the biggest for me is a walking axe and being sure I undo my buckles prior to crossing and keeping good footing..being sure one foot is planted before moving the other(my new addition for crossing is crampons).About 15 years ago I had a near death experience crossing a creek in sheep country( i learned that day among other things how glacier creek dramatically rise in the afternoon) I was crossing a creek with a pack full of sheep and got two thirds across and got a little too deep in very fast water but refused to just turn and try a different spot so I went against my better judgement and went for it,lost my footing and went under with a 100 plus strapped to my back(still buckled)...swallowed a bunch of water and luckily managed to get out a few hundred yards down stream... then the hypothermia started setting in and the only saving grace was my tent was right there so I was able to warm up... Give em hell out there and be safe...
    Dave

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    Seems like you have my technique down pat. Koflachs, glacier socks and an ice axe.

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    Member CtP's Avatar
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    Last year crossed a river for sheep and it went pretty well. Went with the boots worn, gaiters, and trek pole (01). We crossed on a straight section of river and had about 30-40 yards to cross. Used the pole on the downstream arm and took it step by step.
    On the way back with a sheep in pack, I used a different technique as the water seemed a bit faster. I kind of shuffle stepped across. In the deeper faster parts, pretty much the whole middle section I faced up river, leaned forward an bit and used the trek pole for stability. I didn't think to use my instep crampons but they'll definitely be considered if there's a river to cross this year. I did commit to swamped boots at this point cuz the wheelers were a short hike away.
    He's A_L and I crossing up river and BH downriver,He opted for the bare foot river cross.
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    Moderator hunt_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CtP View Post
    ...and BH downriver,He opted for the bare foot river cross.
    Because those hooves don't mind the cold and the rocks!!

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    A few years ago my sheep hunting partner and I walked in crossing a calf deep stream numerous times. After a week of rain we came out and the river was over the family jewels. We should have known to wait when we could hear rocks rolling from the current. We locked arms and got half way when my partner stepped on a bad rock. I tried to steady him but he lost his footing and the current spun him. He was swept downstream in a heartbeat with his sternum strap still buckled. He went under the water lots of times and I thought he was a gonner. I made it across dumped my pack and pulled him out of the water about 300 yards downstream. He was cold, beatup, and his speach was slurred. Luckily the only dry thing in his pack was a set of clothes. We cooked a mountain house and realized how lucky he was to be alive.

    Be careful out there. If the water is too high and swift wait until morning to cross or look for a better spot. I have crossed streams using everything from a pair of wool socks, Wiggys lightweight waders, to the sourdough slippers from Barneys.

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    I use crocs and bare it. It gets real cold but your not carrying around glacier socks that seem to get holes in them fairly easy or there to heavy. Also if the rivers waist deep the glacier socks are not gona work. The crocs are super light weight and great for wearing around camp after a long day I just strap mine to my pack.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Strap-on teva sandles for me, hard-soled neoprene dive booties for my wife. They're both heavier than I care to have, but offer solid footing.

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    You should never attempt to cross creeks in sheep country
    Death is like an old whore in a bar--I'll buy her a drink but I won't go upstairs with her.

  9. #9

    Default Tennis shoes

    I have crossed many streams with tennis shoes and on the way back with my sheep boots. Have gotten through near chest deep water, not fun, but had to. Make sure to have footing before taking the next step. Use pole to help. Have floated down a creek a time or two. I guess it is what we do to get where we are going.

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    Premium Member Wyo2AK's Avatar
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    I'm not too thrilled about crossing barefoot. Just too paranoid about cutting my foot and then cramming it in a sweaty boot for a week or so. I also don't like the idea of loose-fitting footwear (are you referring to crocs or similar, Bear? I've never worn crocs so not sure how loose they actually are, but I was with a buddy who crossed in crocs one time and threw a shoe halfway across, then nearly fell in stumbling across and chasing his shoe downstream.)

    For shin deep or less I just use gaiters and my boots. I carry two beefy rubber bands (bracelet size, thick as my thumb, lots of other uses) that I'll use to cinch the gaiters tight around the ankles of my boots to minimize water making it inside my boot. I've used a similar approach with rain pants and rubber bands or elec tape to make waders in a pinch.

    For deeper water I use water/boat shoes. I'm currently using Teva Nilch minimalist shoes. Double as camp shoes. 9 oz of heaven at the end of the day last year hunting in glacial hell. They hug my feet snuggly so I don't worry about them coming off crossing a creek. I like having full toe protection from cuts and abrasions and decent soles under my feet. I seldom take my instep crampons into sheep country so that's usually not an option.

    Definitely use my walking ax or trekking poles to add a third point of contact. When the current is to strong to hold a trekking pole to the bottom I begin to reevaluate if I should be crossing there.

    Good topic and posts above. Thanks all!


    Cheers,
    Rich
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    Member t-storm's Avatar
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    I had the crocs with heel the heel straps. They were awesome creek crossers. They are yours if you can find em, they're somewhere along the very upper end of ship creek. Next time I'll get flo. orange instead of olive drab.

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    I found that Crocs need to be duct taped/tied on when crossing fast streams. Kind of annoying IMO. I've done the barefoot thing a number of times too, and found that to be pretty high risk to my feet.

    The ideal option for streams that aren't too deep seems to be the wiggy waders (for leather boots) or the Barney glacier socks (for plastics). On the the really dicey crossings, I want a good tread on my feet and am happiest with a good water sandal or shoe.

    Yk

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Depends on the hunt--sometimes you have multiple crossings, others, just one. I carry a pair of wool GI socks and tape them to my shin. I figure I'm going to be cold and wet regardless so I strip down to my drawers, tape the socks on and cross. The wool gives pretty good traction on the rocks. I prep for the crossing by having my dry clothes bagged and at the top of my pack for quick access.

    The most important thing IMO is to scout for a crossing. I look for a spot with relatively even water depth, moderate flow (if possible) and a gradual bank on the far side. I also plan for a quartering downstream route when the water is above knee deep. You're less likely to lose your footing this way. If forced to choose I'll take slower, deeper water vs fast water at any depth above shin-deep.
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    Anyone ever carry rope? First guy across is roped to the guy on shore. Once he is across, 2nd, or more, guys are roped to the first (or a tree). Might have to carry a fair amount of rope for some crossings.
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    Member Bullelkklr's Avatar
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    How many trees are there in sheep country to tie a rope to?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bullelkklr View Post
    How many trees are there in sheep country to tie a rope to?

    Perhaps not many IN sheep country. Buy plenty on them long hikes INTO sheep country.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wyo2AK View Post
    I'm not too thrilled about crossing barefoot. Just too paranoid about cutting my foot and then cramming it in a sweaty boot for a week or so. I also don't like the idea of loose-fitting footwear (are you referring to crocs or similar, Bear? I've never worn crocs so not sure how loose they actually are, but I was with a buddy who crossed in crocs one time and threw a shoe halfway across, then nearly fell in stumbling across and chasing his shoe downstream.)

    For shin deep or less I just use gaiters and my boots. I carry two beefy rubber bands (bracelet size, thick as my thumb, lots of other uses) that I'll use to cinch the gaiters tight around the ankles of my boots to minimize water making it inside my boot. I've used a similar approach with rain pants and rubber bands or elec tape to make waders in a pinch.

    For deeper water I use water/boat shoes. I'm currently using Teva Nilch minimalist shoes. Double as camp shoes. 9 oz of heaven at the end of the day last year hunting in glacial hell. They hug my feet snuggly so I don't worry about them coming off crossing a creek. I like having full toe protection from cuts and abrasions and decent soles under my feet. I seldom take my instep crampons into sheep country so that's usually not an option.

    Definitely use my walking ax or trekking poles to add a third point of contact. When the current is to strong to hold a trekking pole to the bottom I begin to reevaluate if I should be crossing there.

    Good topic and posts above. Thanks all!


    Cheers,
    Rich
    Rich I was among a few others referring to crocs.

    Some really good advice here by all for sure...Picking a safe crossing seems to be the theme here that I think we can all agree on. Not sure what valley I'll be hunting in yet but this year I am going to try my crampons to see how they work out..

    MT I actually considered carrying a rope but in my situation I would not want to put my hunters in a situation where they have to hang on to me and chance falling in. But if I was with a friend then I might think a little differently....whats a little water between friends. I would be interested in hearing if anyone ever did use a rope and how it worked for them.

    Erik in Ak I think you brought up a good point about what the other bank looks like....I think you can judge a lot from the edges of a river..

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    My ankles wont' allow me to use Teva's, crocs, etc. Plastic boots and glacier socks work for me. Trekking poles, read the river looking for ripples, bars, etc. Avoid deep crossing where there are possibly deep channels on the far bank, Cross at widest part of stream, go slow, don't stare into the glacial silt water too long, it messes with equilibrium/balance. Oh, don't jump!

    Be aware of your own limits and body. My partner is tall and has very long shins and is an inherently strong guy. Knee deep for him is thigh deep for me. I don't always cross where he does.

    I keep my spot, fire starter and waterproof matches, lighter and knife zipped in my pants pocket. If the pack ends up gone and things go sideways hopefully I can get help coming if needed and start a fire.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    .

    I keep my spot, fire starter and waterproof matches, lighter and knife zipped in my pants pocket. If the pack ends up gone and things go sideways hopefully I can get help coming if needed and start a fire.
    That there is some VERY solid advice...

  20. #20
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    I found a climbing rope once while sheep hunting does that count?

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