Great creek crossings I have known
ALTHOUGH ALMOST ANY OUTDOORS activity can turn into a highly entertaining spectator sport, there is nothing I like to watch more than a run-of-the-mill creek crossing attempt. Just the thought of a good one makes me smile.
A creek crossing, of course, should not be confused with a river crossing which typically requires a boat, bridge or ford.
In stark contrast, a good creek crossing is actually crossable without these things, but only if you have the balance of a billy goat, legs that span the creek or the engineering skills to make a working catapult.
Creek crossings come in several varieties.
The first is the basic rock path. This, as any inveterate creek crosser knows, is the most insidious. Basically, you look at the creek and see several boulders protruding above the water like a path that seems to span from bank to bank.
The first few steps are always easy. But as you get to the middle of the creek, also known as the point of no return, you soon realize that the a) you are standing on a very small unsteady rock that seems to be coated with something slightly slicker than Teflon, and
b) to step onto the next rock you are going to have to do the kind of splits Olympic gymnasts train years for.
Also, turning back is not an option, since your last step caused the previous rock to roll a few more inches away.
The second variety of crossing, which I truly enjoy, is the slick log. In my estimation, the slick log has done more for birth control than all other methods currently utilized. That’s because when a man falls off a slick log there is a law of physics that ensures each foot will fall off a different side of it.
I’m no expert on these things by any means, but I will say I can tell you there is a slick log in the vicinity just by the noise that accompanies an unsuccessful crossing, which many people confuse for a wolf howl or a distant fire truck siren.
The third type of creek crossing is the run-ofthe-mill beaver dam. This should also be called the beaver’s revenge, since each step is a trip hazard. The thing that makes these crossings so entertaining is that no one ever falls in on the shallow side.
Also, it’s fun to watch someone who is flailing grab sticks that are unattached to the dam in an effort to hold on. I think it is the moment the look of relief is replaced by sheer panic that gets me most. Hilarious.
All of these things are made even better by ice, by the way.
Winter also provides the last great creek crossing option – one that most people refer to as the thin ice gambit. You see ice span that narrowest part of a creek and you say to yourself, “If I run across that ice, I’ll slide into the far bank before it collapses. It’s not that far…”
But, in my experience, the far bank is always farther than you think.
That’s why for me, in winter, creek crossings are a spectator sport only. Unless I am with someone who has the engineering skills to construct a really good catapult.