Montana Headwall » Head Lines & Features

Make like Moses

How to successfully ford a stream

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1. Thoroughly scout the bank for the best place to cross. A few hints: Cross at the river’s widest point; narrow spots are typically deeper and faster. Keep in mind downstream features just in case you end up going for a swim. Be willing to search up and down the banks for your ideal option—this is, after all, the most important step.

Montana Headwall. Outdoor adventure under the Big Sky.
  • Illustration by Kou Moua

2. Prepare to cross by unclipping your hip belt, removing loose clothing and replacing socks and boots with alternative footwear.

Montana Headwall. Outdoor adventure under the Big Sky.
  • Illustration by Kou Moua

3. For deeper rivers, run a line. Anchor your rope to a tree, rock or other solid feature, with the initial and strongest crosser attaching it on the opposite bank. The last crosser unties and carries the rope across.

4. Cross at a slight angle, heading downstream but facing upstream. Lean into the current.

Montana Headwall. Outdoor adventure under the Big Sky.
  • Illustration by Kou Moua

5. If the current gets you, flip to your back, let your pack go and point your feet downstream. Don’t panic. When you reach calm water, swim to shore. Word to the wise: Strip quickly and wring out your clothes before your buddies document the event.

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