Great creek cross­ings I have known

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - STEVE GALEA

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.

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