||River Crossing Safety on Glacial Streams
Most glacial river crossings on the flanks of Mt. Hood do not have bridges. Timberline Trail and
Pacific Crest hikers should be prepared for dangerous river conditions. The following safety
procedures are recommended before attempting any crossing:
This information is posted by the Forest Service on signs near stream crossings, to avoid
a tragedy such as occurred in August of 2004. The family and friends of Sarah Bishop funded the creation and posting of
these signs in memory of their loved one who was swept to her death while attempting to cross the Sandy River on the Pacific
- Avoid hiking alone when crossing glacial streams.
- Check the weather before you begin your trip. Avoid these streams if storms are predicted.
- Plan crossings for early morning. Streams are lower in the morning.
- Be willing to turn back if conditions appear unsafe. Danger signs are:
- Fast Water
- Very Cold Temperatures
- Downstream hazards like waterfalls
- Difficulty determining depth
- Water higher than your knees
- Sound of boulders rolling along the bottom
- Scout up and down for the safest crossing, which may not be the trail crossing. Look for gradual banks, shallow water free of obstructions, and similar conditions downstream.
- Keep your pack on, but undo the hip and chest straps. Remove your pack if you lose your footing.
- Wear boots, sneakers, or water sandals for foot protection and ankle support.
- Use a hiking stick as a third leg, especially on the upstream side and scout for drop offs.
- Cross together. Face upstream and get in a line perpendicular to the stream's flow. Grab the person's shirt in front of you and move sideways one foot at a time, feeling for a stable surface before transferring your weight. Two people can also face each other holding arms and move side ways.
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