River Crossing Practice – 18th November 2023

Hazel organised and led a river crossing exercise at the Opahi River on Saturday. There were ten of us there. We entered the riverbed via the Roaring Camp Road. The weather was fine and sunny with no wind and the river water was not too cold. The water was clear and not too fast despite the rain we had the day before.

Hazel started by explaining and showing us the important points to look for when deciding to cross a river. Do you need to cross? If in doubt stay out. Where is the best place to cross? How to assess the speed of the river by throwing in a small stick in the mid-stream and seeing how fast in moves in the currant. The hazards of discoloured and fast moving water. What to do if you get it wrong – back out as soon as possible. Emphasis was on safety and using the Mutual Support Method for crossing a river with a group.

There was also instruction on how to use a walking pole to cross a river when alone – done by facing crossstream and using the pole like a third leg on the upstream side to assist with staying upright while moving with short shuffling steps.

Hazel explained the principle of pack floating in the event of loosing ones footing and being swept away during a crossing and Wayne gave a demonstration – keep your pack on as usual, lie on your back with your pack under you, chest buckle undone before attempting the crossing, hold onto the shoulder straps if necessary, legs out in front facing downstream with feet kicking like when swimming, steer yourself towards the first safe exit point.

Thanks to Hazel for an informative and fun morning.

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