If you run trails, you are going to come across rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. Are you a splasher or a rock jumper?
Sometimes there are bridges, but often there are not. Even on the well travel Bonneville Shoreline trail near my home, there are creeks without bridges. At one particular crossing, some caring person has carried cinder blocks up the mountain and placed them in the creek to allow for dry feet crossings.
As I was running along the trail this week and rock hopped across the bridgeless creek, I thought if this were a race I’d just run through the water.
I’m making the assumption that rock hopping or a log crossing is an option. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to dash through the water or attempt to cross with dry piggy’s. These are not in any particular order. If fact you should probably consider six first.
First, do your shoes drain well. If you have good trail shoes, which drain well and dry quickly splashing through the water gets one point in its favor. Let’s face it, running with squishy feet is annoying at a minimum and gross at its worst. Also, shoes that don’t drain well are never the same afterward.
Second, are you prone to blisters if your feet are wet? Some people are more prone to blisters when their feet are sopping wet and squishing in your shoes. If you are running farther than a 10k, you probably don’t want to splash through the water. Minus one point from the water run.
Third, what are the rocks at the bottom of the water like? This one is important. If there are large rounded rocks with slim covering them at the bottom of the water, running through can be treacherous. The possibility of falling or twisting an ankle may not be worth the risk. However, if the rocks are small, you are probably not going to roll and ankle.
Fourth, what is the terrain after the crossing like? Wet shoes can be slippery on smooth flat rocks, actually, on larger rocks in general. If you are immediately headed into a rocky section of trail without any dirt to dry the bottom of your shoes, pick your path carefully.
Fifth, how much time are you going to lose by rock hoping? Rock hopping is going to slow most people down. You slow as you approach and jump across. If you splash through, there is no reason to slow down.
Sixth, how deep is the water? If it is below knee height and you can lift your foot out of the water with each step, running through is a possibility. If the water is above knee deep, it’s going to slow you down. If the water is that deep there may not be any rocks or a log to get across. There may be a rope to hang onto with fast moving water, so watch for that as well.