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How to Safely Cross a Stream

You come across a stream. There isn’t a bridge, yet the trail continues on the other side. How do you get across?

Crossing a body of water presents some hazards. You can slip on a wet rock, fall into a deep spot or even get swept downstream by fast-moving water. So before you just wade in, consider several factors.

First, look for where the water is calm, even if it’s the widest part of the stream. Check downstream. If you were to fall, is there a chance you could be swept into rocks, rapids or even a waterfall? If so, look for another spot.

If there are steppingstones, study the route. Expect the stones to be slippery when you step on them, so plant your feet squarely in the center of each one. Grab a walking stick to help you maintain your balance. If there is a fallen log, consider scooting across it to stay balanced.

If you decide to wade into the water, keep your shoes on to get better traction and protect your feet from sharp rocks. Before crossing any body of water, unbuckle your backpack’s waistband and loosen the shoulder straps. That way, if you fall into the water, you can easily remove the backpack so it doesn’t weigh you down.

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