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RE: [John Muir Trail] Rope Lenght for River Crossing?

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  • herbstroh@charter.net
    Jon-- I join with others in the suggestion to forget the rope. To be effective someone needs to secure it on the other side. NEVER use the rope with the
    Message 1 of 34 , Jun 2, 2009
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      Jon--

      I join with others in the suggestion to forget the rope. To be effective
      someone needs to secure it on the other side. NEVER use the rope with the
      intention of pulling in a fallen hiker--I have seen someone holding or tied
      to a rope with companions on the shore, expecting to "save" him by pulling
      him to shore should he fall. That is a disaster waiting to happen. If the
      hiker falls, the rope will securly pin him in the flow of water with little
      chance to right himself. A pack will immediately fill with water and
      literally weigh 100 pounds.

      A rope would only help to hold on to. In that case I would prefer using my
      hiking poles as additional contact points rather than hanging on to a rope
      that may have some flex in it.

      One of the best discussions I have seen on this topic is from the PCT-L
      list, from Ned who teaches winter and general travel survivial skills. His
      post on this topic, primarily aimed at PCT thru hikers who will be in the
      Sierra during June, is excellent and thus is repeated in full below:

      "From: ned@...
      Subject: [pct-l] Creek Crossings techniques for the current Thrus


      The month of June in the Sierra is notorious for heavy snow-melt and
      dangerous creek crossings.

      For the thru hiker, the major dangers are slip-and-falls on snow/ice while
      on climbs and descents, injuries while post-holing, and creek crossings.
      Much has been said about snowshoes, ice axes, and self-arrest techniques,
      but little is mentioned about creek crossing skills and techniques. Though
      we spend much of our time teaching winter/spring snow camping and travel
      techniques, we have gone out to the trail above Kennedy Meadows to meet the
      "herd" and teach such techniques.

      The technique you choose to cross a dangerous creek is yours, alone, at
      that time and based on the conditions before you. We do not advocate one or
      another of these choices, rather, hope to empower you with their listing,
      thereby not assuming any responsibility for your actions, Here is a brief
      synopsis to keep in your head when making crossing decisions:


      - Do not feel that you have to cross where the trail does!
      - Drop your pack and search the creek above and below the trail crossing
      for several hundred feet looking for safer routes across.
      - Take your time. Don't be in a hurry for time, here. Consider grabbing a
      bite to eat while you search, maybe lunch in the sun beside the creek?
      - Keep in mind where the trail goes on the other side before crossing.
      When you get there, you'll know how to re-find the trail.
      - If the creek is fed by snow-melt, it will be deeper and faster during
      the afternoon heat. Consider crossing in the morning.
      - If it is cold and there is no sun and the crossing looks formidable and
      nasty, consider waiting for others (if alone) or for more sun (read on).
      - If you can't wait, travel further up-stream to find a narrower spot that
      is less risky. You don't want to risk getting wet on a cold, sun-less day.

      - Look for the following:
      - Narrow spots where you can jump across. Beware of your landing and your
      balance with packs on.
      - Boulders you can hop across on. If the route is risky, look, also, for
      branches you can hold onto for balance. Beware of slippery, wet rocks,
      perhaps in the shade.
      - Logs you can walk on to cross the creek. Beware if they move or are
      slippery from spray or moss. Test first.
      - Calm-water, sandy-bottom, shallow, rock-free, short-distance crossing
      spots you can wade through. Since these immersion-style crossings aren't
      the norm, consider the following:

      --For swift-water group crossings:
      --whenever possible, cross in groups of 2 or 3, packs loose, arms linked
      together, hands holding belts, and facing the other side.
      ---be able to see the bottom (choose routes free of white water, if
      possible).
      ---keep your boots on so your feet don't get hurt.
      ---step between the rocks.
      ---do not start from nor end at a concave bend in the creek where the
      current is faster and deeper.
      ---constantly talk with each other to coordinate who is moving while the
      rest brace.

      --For swift-water solo crossings:
      ---if you are alone and know there are others nearby, wait for them to
      catch up.
      ---if you must cross alone, use your poles as 3rd and 4th legs for balance
      against the current. Combine your poles or use separately.
      ---plan your attack, how you will maintain that balance. Legs and feet get
      very cold very quickly making for hasty decisions should direction or
      balance come into question. Get through it as fast as you can, but don't
      be hasty.
      ---if you question the strength of your poles for down-stream support or
      that they may suddenly collapse, look for a choice dead branch to use as
      your 3rd leg. Test it out for shock strength before entering the water
      (bang it on the ground a few times on and against its axis).
      ---move your poles or stick only when you are certain you can maintain your
      balance on your feet. Move a foot at a time only once you are certain your
      other two contacts with the creek bottom won't move.

      Once on the other side, assist/advise every one else to get across, then
      put on dry clothing and socks, boot back up, and immediately get going to
      create heat. If it's a nice day, take the time to grab a bite to eat in the
      sun beside the creek, if you haven't already (helps to give you energy to
      warm back up).

      If you loose your balance and find yourself fully immersed in the icy
      water, jettison your pack and keep your head above the water. Swim across
      when you're not avoiding boulders. In the white water, float feet-first so
      you can see the rocks coming. Try to avoid or vault over them using your
      hands and feet. Work your way to the shore.

      If the water isn't that deep nor fast-moving and you just lost your balance
      and got thoroughly wet, get back up as best you can and flounder to shore.
      Try not to fall again. You now have to do many things at once. Are you
      injured? Find out if you have any dry clothes and put them on. Get the help
      of others to get and keep you warm, maybe a tent needs to be pitched to get
      you out of the wind or a stove started to put warm fluids onboard. Drain
      your pack spread out all your stuff, especially the food. Assess damage.
      Clothing will dry out but food and fuel may be lost.

      If you are alone, this may become a crisis situation even after you survive
      the crossing due to hypothermic conditions. Get into the sun, strip off all
      wet clothes, and do exercises to warm up and dry out. If there is no sun,
      you have to create your own heat by muscle activity. Do what you must to
      get warm. Cry out for help. Find someone who can start a fire, pitch a
      tent, and provide a sleeping bag for you to get into. Fire up a stove and
      get warm food and fluids into you, too. This must all happen fast. If you
      start shivering, your time is limited. If you have no resources at all, it
      is either time to run, to find help (this is when you need to know in your
      head where the trail goes and where people may likely be, at other lakes,
      toward trailheads, on main trails, and go that way) and to create heat, or
      do vigorous exercises while waiting for others to come along.


      For the most part, creek crossings aren't too risky. If you take the time
      to search for the easiest route across, not the first easier one, you will
      find one that is acceptable and your hike will continue safe and happy.

      Be safe out there!

      Mtnned"
      _________________________________________________________
      On the issue of trail runners vs crocs, just wear the trail runners. You
      can take off your socks and pull the footbed out and keep those dry. Better
      traction, less weight.

      See you on the trail.

      Herb



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    • Roleigh Martin
      This was a great posting that I ve filed away. Thanks, Herb. ... [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      Message 34 of 34 , Jun 2, 2009
      • 0 Attachment
        This was a great posting that I've filed away. Thanks, Herb.

        On 6/2/09, herbstroh <herbstroh@...> wrote:
        >
        >
        > Jon--
        >
        >
        >
        > I join with others in the suggestion to forget the rope. To be effective
        > some needs to secure it on the other side. NEVER use the rope with the
        > intention of pulling in a fallen hiker--I have seen someone holding or
        > tied to a rope with companions on the shore, expecting to "save" him by
        > pulling him to shore should he fall. That is a disaster waiting to
        > happen. If the hiker falls, the rope will securely pin him in the flow
        > of water with little chance to right himself. Further, the pack will
        > fill with water and literally weight a hundred pounds in seconds.
        >
        >
        >
        > A rope securely tied to both side of the stream would no doubt help.
        > However, using your hiking poles to gain two additional points of
        > contact are better than a rope that might bow when stressed.
        >
        >
        >
        > One of the best discussions I have seen on the topic is from the PCT-L
        > list, from Ned who teaches winter and general travel survival skills.
        > His post on this topic, primarily aimed at PCT thru hikers who will be
        > in the Sierra during June, is excellent and thus is repeated in full
        > below:
        >
        > "From: ned@...
        >
        > Subject: [pct-l] Creek Crossings techniques for the current Thrus
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > The month of June in the Sierra is notorious for heavy snow-melt and
        >
        > dangerous creek crossings.
        >
        >
        >
        > For the thru hiker, the major dangers are slip-and-falls on snow/ice
        > while
        >
        > on climbs and descents, injuries while post-holing, and creek crossings.
        >
        > Much has been said about snowshoes, ice axes, and self-arrest
        > techniques,
        >
        > but little is mentioned about creek crossing skills and techniques.
        > Though
        >
        > we spend much of our time teaching winter/spring snow camping and travel
        >
        > techniques, we have gone out to the trail above Kennedy Meadows to meet
        > the
        >
        > "herd" and teach such techniques.
        >
        >
        >
        > The technique you choose to cross a dangerous creek is yours, alone, at
        >
        > that time and based on the conditions before you. We do not advocate one
        > or
        >
        > another of these choices, rather, hope to empower you with their
        > listing,
        >
        > thereby not assuming any responsibility for your actions, Here is a
        > brief
        >
        > synopsis to keep in your head when making crossing decisions:
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > - Do not feel that you have to cross where the trail does!
        >
        > - Drop your pack and search the creek above and below the trail
        > crossing
        >
        > for several hundred feet looking for safer routes across.
        >
        > - Take your time. Don't be in a hurry for time, here. Consider grabbing
        > a
        >
        > bite to eat while you search, maybe lunch in the sun beside the creek?
        >
        > - Keep in mind where the trail goes on the other side before crossing.
        >
        > When you get there, you'll know how to re-find the trail.
        >
        > - If the creek is fed by snow-melt, it will be deeper and faster during
        >
        > the afternoon heat. Consider crossing in the morning.
        >
        > - If it is cold and there is no sun and the crossing looks formidable
        > and
        >
        > nasty, consider waiting for others (if alone) or for more sun (read on).
        >
        > - If you can't wait, travel further up-stream to find a narrower spot
        > that
        >
        > is less risky. You don't want to risk getting wet on a cold, sun-less
        > day.
        >
        >
        >
        > - Look for the following:
        >
        > - Narrow spots where you can jump across. Beware of your landing and
        > your
        >
        > balance with packs on.
        >
        > - Boulders you can hop across on. If the route is risky, look, also,
        > for
        >
        > branches you can hold onto for balance. Beware of slippery, wet rocks,
        >
        > perhaps in the shade.
        >
        > - Logs you can walk on to cross the creek. Beware if they move or are
        >
        > slippery from spray or moss. Test first.
        >
        > - Calm-water, sandy-bottom, shallow, rock-free, short-distance crossing
        >
        > spots you can wade through. Since these immersion-style crossings aren't
        >
        > the norm, consider the following:
        >
        >
        >
        > --For swift-water group crossings:
        >
        > --whenever possible, cross in groups of 2 or 3, packs loose, arms linked
        >
        > together, hands holding belts, and facing the other side.
        >
        > ---be able to see the bottom (choose routes free of white water, if
        >
        > possible).
        >
        > ---keep your boots on so your feet don't get hurt.
        >
        > ---step between the rocks.
        >
        > ---do not start from nor end at a concave bend in the creek where the
        >
        > current is faster and deeper.
        >
        > ---constantly talk with each other to coordinate who is moving while the
        >
        > rest brace.
        >
        >
        >
        > --For swift-water solo crossings:
        >
        > ---if you are alone and know there are others nearby, wait for them to
        >
        > catch up.
        >
        > ---if you must cross alone, use your poles as 3rd and 4th legs for
        > balance
        >
        > against the current. Combine your poles or use separately.
        >
        > ---plan your attack, how you will maintain that balance. Legs and feet
        > get
        >
        > very cold very quickly making for hasty decisions should direction or
        >
        > balance come into question. Get through it as fast as you can, but
        > don't
        >
        > be hasty.
        >
        > ---if you question the strength of your poles for down-stream support or
        >
        > that they may suddenly collapse, look for a choice dead branch to use as
        >
        > your 3rd leg. Test it out for shock strength before entering the water
        >
        > (bang it on the ground a few times on and against its axis).
        >
        > ---move your poles or stick only when you are certain you can maintain
        > your
        >
        > balance on your feet. Move a foot at a time only once you are certain
        > your
        >
        > other two contacts with the creek bottom won't move.
        >
        >
        >
        > Once on the other side, assist/advise every one else to get across, then
        >
        > put on dry clothing and socks, boot back up, and immediately get going
        > to
        >
        > create heat. If it's a nice day, take the time to grab a bite to eat in
        > the
        >
        > sun beside the creek, if you haven't already (helps to give you energy
        > to
        >
        > warm back up).
        >
        >
        >
        > If you loose your balance and find yourself fully immersed in the icy
        >
        > water, jettison your pack and keep your head above the water. Swim
        > across
        >
        > when you're not avoiding boulders. In the white water, float feet-first
        > so
        >
        > you can see the rocks coming. Try to avoid or vault over them using your
        >
        > hands and feet. Work your way to the shore.
        >
        >
        >
        > If the water isn't that deep nor fast-moving and you just lost your
        > balance
        >
        > and got thoroughly wet, get back up as best you can and flounder to
        > shore.
        >
        > Try not to fall again. You now have to do many things at once. Are you
        >
        > injured? Find out if you have any dry clothes and put them on. Get the
        > help
        >
        > of others to get and keep you warm, maybe a tent needs to be pitched to
        > get
        >
        > you out of the wind or a stove started to put warm fluids onboard. Drain
        >
        > your pack spread out all your stuff, especially the food. Assess damage.
        >
        > Clothing will dry out but food and fuel may be lost.
        >
        >
        >
        > If you are alone, this may become a crisis situation even after you
        > survive
        >
        > the crossing due to hypothermic conditions. Get into the sun, strip off
        > all
        >
        > wet clothes, and do exercises to warm up and dry out. If there is no
        > sun,
        >
        > you have to create your own heat by muscle activity. Do what you must to
        >
        > get warm. Cry out for help. Find someone who can start a fire, pitch a
        >
        > tent, and provide a sleeping bag for you to get into. Fire up a stove
        > and
        >
        > get warm food and fluids into you, too. This must all happen fast. If
        > you
        >
        > start shivering, your time is limited. If you have no resources at all,
        > it
        >
        > is either time to run, to find help (this is when you need to know in
        > your
        >
        > head where the trail goes and where people may likely be, at other
        > lakes,
        >
        > toward trailheads, on main trails, and go that way) and to create heat,
        > or
        >
        > do vigorous exercises while waiting for others to come along.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > For the most part, creek crossings aren't too risky. If you take the
        > time
        >
        > to search for the easiest route across, not the first easier one, you
        > will
        >
        > find one that is acceptable and your hike will continue safe and happy.
        >
        >
        >
        > Be safe out there!
        >
        >
        >
        > Mtnned"
        >
        > _________________________________________________________
        >
        > On the issue of trail runners vs crocs, just wear the trail runners. You
        > can take off your socks and pull the footbed out and keep those dry.
        > Better traction, less weight.
        >
        >
        >
        > See you on the trail.
        >
        >
        >
        > Herb
        >
        >
        >
        > --- In johnmuirtrail@yahoogroups.com, "Jon Shannon" <sierranomad@...>
        > wrote:
        > >
        > > Hi:
        > >
        > > Our JMT trip will be July 1 - 22 and we are planning on bringing a
        > rope to assist in river crossing, just to be prepared. We are planning
        > on bringing a 30' rope. Is this long enough?
        > >
        > > Thank you.
        > >
        > > JOn
        > >
        >
        >
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
        >
        > ------------------------------------
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >


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