River or water crossings are notoriously dangerous but often an unavoidable necessity when travelling in the wilderness.
If however you are presented with something more substantial to cross (calm and deep) then you might want to learn how to make a raft out of nothing more than a tarp, some string, and just sticks and debris.
- You start by placing sticks in the ground as stakes.
- Next start wrapping sticks and branches around the pegs to create a doughnut. Weave them as they are placed around the stakes. It doesn’t have to be very big but the bigger it is, the more people you can add. You will need to have the woven sides at least 8 to 12 inches or even higher depending on conditions. You can lash branches together with withies, vines or cordage (ie: shoelaces).
- Place the doughnut on top of a tarp and fold the edges over your so that the edges end up inside.
- Tie edges of the tarp to the inside branches and you have a simple raft. Don’t overload it. The thing may sink to near the top of the outler ‘wall’ but you should try and avoid it spilling over!
If its a raging torrent then if you have to cross then learning how to rig a tyrolean traverse may be your only option. Good mountain instructors and guides will be able to teach you this technique although it may have to be adapted for river crossings slightly.
Having these skills will improve your ability to tackle one of the most difficult wilderness obstacles.