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Hiking through streams

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north carolina
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Hiking through streams

I just finished reading Ike Waits guide to hiking in Denali.What a fantastic book!Every page led me to more exciting hiking.My question is he said when he hikes through water he doesn't mind getting his feet wet.He also said he brings along an extra pair of socks to change into.Would'nt it be very un-comfortable to walk the rest of the day in semi-wet feet?Do others pack waders depending on the level of the streams?Waterproof boots would'nt keep your feet totally dry if the water is deep.Any info would be helpful-- Thanks icq

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1. Re: Hiking through streams

I can't remember from your past posts if you are dayhiking or backpacking. It makes a big difference. I assume you are dayhiking.

When we went backpacking in Denali we took cheap, light payless shoes water shoes for crossing braids in rivers & creeks. I've taken neoprene socks too.It can be dangerous backpacking, getting soaked & sleeping out. Plus not fun having wet boots for days on end.

Now when we backpack all over Alaska we take fake crocs to use for campshoes & creek crossings.

Now our favorite way to go into Denali is to set up base camp at a campground within the park & dayhike out of there rather than backpacking. So we take 2 pairs of footwear so we can change out of our wet shoes for the next day's hike. We also take crocs for camp shoes. I like people that are hiking with me to have a change of thick hiking socks (not cotton) in their daypacks. There is an old timer saying to just jump in the first puddle in Denali & get it over with. If you are truly hiking the backcountry of Denali you will get wet. There is wet tundra, wetlands, deep braids of rivers, streams, rain, hail, snow, yep! Wet!! We had to wring our wet socks out & put dry on.

When you say waders, I think of the waders we use salmon fishing or my break-up rubber boots & those would be too heavy & bulky for us with our style of hiking.

We do carry rainpants, rain jacket, & a lot of hikers wear short gaiters to keep feet drier & to keep scree out if we are climbing scree up or down peaks. We also use hiking poles to keep us balanced for creek crossings, crossing marshy tundra wetlands, etc.

I avoid all serious river crossings in Denali. I would never go into a unit that necessitated a waist deep water crossing.

However, this last trip we crossed Igloo Creek to climb Cathedral Mountain. I stayed fairly dry jumping to a couple of rocks. We got waylaid by a mama with cubs then got caught in a rain/hail storm. The creek was so high when we got back down that we got soaked with the crossing.

Bristol, Connecticut
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2. Re: Hiking through streams

Sounds like you and I were in Denali at the same time last week denalicat. I was in Sable Pass on 6/19 and there was a mom and two cubs and it was hailing, we must have missed eachother. I also carry a pair of Teva type sandals for wet crossings they dry fast.

fti
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3. Re: Hiking through streams

Great questions.

I have learned a lot from denalicat, Ike Waits and a park ranger earlier this month who gave a talk at the Wonder Lake campground on day hiking in Denali.

We had to cross several small streams during one of our hikes and our feet got a bit wet even though we did use rocks to jump onto as we crossed. We did take an extra pair of socks to change at the end of our hike. Our feet were a bit wet after crossing the stream but it was a pretty nice day and they dried at least to the point that they were not obnoxious. As denalicat said, some people take separate shoes for water crossings which is an excellent idea (I did that the day before but we didn't cross any streams!).

I did buy a walking stick after returning since it will come in handy both for general hiking and for stream crossings.

I too avoid deeper crossings - even knee deep is too much for me. We had to alter our course a bit when we came to a stream that was too wide and fast for our liking. It is a learning experience.

John

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4. Re: Hiking through streams

About the only thing to add to Denali Cat is my method of the cheap shoes for river crossings - I carry the dry socks as well as some long plastic bread bags and rubber bands rather that neoprene socks. The feet are going to get wet, so make it your choice. I take off the hiking boots and the good socks, but on river crossing socks to get wet, and then slip them in the bread bags and put the rubber band around the top of the bag at the leg. Then put on the cheap shoes. Buy garish colorful ones, they scare off the fresh water sharks. I use them and have never been attacked yet, proof that they work!

The bag will not likely keep your foot dry under water, but it will barricade the sock from the rushing water and give you a single layer of still water to walk in, keeping the feet as warm in glacier water as possible instead of quickly losing heat from the feet to the rushing water.

Then dry off & change back once you have crossed the stream, hanging your wet shoes on the back of your pack to drip and maybe dry.

Surprisingly I have been comfortable in wet feet. On a ski trip in the Stampede Trail I soaked my feet the first day and went the three days without trouble. Keeping active was the key to keeping the feet warm, and I don't blister cross country skiing, while I have to be careful when hiking. I guess you read about using a stout staff leaning upstream as you cross against the current. It sure adds to stability.

71

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5. Re: Hiking through streams

Since 71, my Colorado backpacking girlfriend used the baggie-over-the-socks method in Denali & she was very pleased.

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6. Re: Hiking through streams

fti, I'm no expert....! I muddle thru the puddles! I do tend to keep moving to keep those wet feet warm.

Anchorage, Alaska
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7. Re: Hiking through streams

Hey everyone,

I just got back from my 17 days in Denali and with the wet weather and several stream crossing under my belt, I thought I would share my approach.

If I am in my rain gear already, I just take my gaiters and put them on over the bottoms of my rain pants and this seems to be good for crossings up to knee/mid thigh deep. I have had a single blow out where water did get into one boot, but that was a fluke. Now this is onlyh really practicle if you are already in rain gear and if you are corssing in good waether I try to change into my water shoes.

For this years trip I purchased a pair of Merrell water shoes. These are just like light weight, high performance sneakers with built in drainage and mesh body materials and sole drains. They were a bit pricy, but they are quick to change and faster than putting on the rain pants. I am also good to cross streams that are only calf deep with a good pair of waterproof gaiters and this suffices for most of the crossings in Denali.

Additionally I strongly recommend a good pair of trekking pole that will provide both solid river crossing support as well as cross country hiking support which will reduce the stresses to your ankle and knee joints.

I hope this helps a little,

- Kery

Harrisburg...
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8. Re: Hiking through streams

I know many of us are experienced day hikers and backpackers, but for any newbies reading this - NEVER have your waist belt fastened when crossing streams or rivers. If you fall, you need to be able to wiggle out of your pack to prevent drowning.

Also for newbies - don't even think about putting the bread bags on the outsides of your boots. It's like being on the slipperiest ice you can imagine. You will be down in about 15 seconds.

north carolina
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9. Re: Hiking through streams

I would like to thank everyone for all the great info.I will be sure to get a walking stick before our trip next August. staying at Tek for 5-6 days and leaving out early every morning to get in all the wonderful hikes that denali has to offer.Question: When you cook on a grill at the campsite, what do you do with the grill after you cook?Does it go into the bear proof container? Also do you leave the bread in the plastic bag when putting it on your feet to keep your feet dry? LOL Sorry i,ve been working too long.Thanks once again-If you every get to N.C. come try our ice cream.Looking forward to trying Hot Licks.

Harrisburg...
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10. Re: Hiking through streams

WARNING

The following items (new, clean, dirty, empty or full) may NOT be left outside or in tent trailers at any time, DAY OR NIGHT, unless they are in immediate use! Store items in hard sided vehicles (RV or auto) or in the food storage lockers located near site #22 or #43.

Coolers / Ice Chests Stoves / Grills Trash or Trash Bags

Food Beverage Containers Cosmetics / Toiletries

Sealed Cans / Bottles Pet Food / Bowls Cooking Utensils

Wash Basins Eating Utensils Fuel Containers

Clothes / Shoes Water bottles Dog / Children’s Toys

You only leave the bread in the bag if it is pumpernickel. Ha!Ha! The reason I mentioned the breadbags don't go on the outside is because I saw someone try it. After we pulled him out and checked for injuries, we laughed ourselves silly. He got a little p*%#sed at us.