Properly fording a river is an art of survival, a process more complex than trudging blindly into the current. To learn how to safely ford a river, we called Marco Johnson, a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) field instructor who for more than 30 years has traveled the globe teaching wilderness courses.
#1. Try to Avoid the Crossing
“The first question I always ask myself: Do I have to cross the river?” Johnson says. “And if so, can I cross it dry?” He explains that hikers often cross a river only to find themselves crossing back a few miles later when it snakes back on itself. You should know your route well enough to avoid multiple crossings of the same river. “I would also look to see if there’s a bridge somewhere,” he says. Even if it means walking a few extra miles, bridge crossings are “a whole lot less dynamic than trying to do a wet crossing.”
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