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  1. #1

    Default 100 Mile Wilderness fords

    Hi, all. I'm making plans to hike the HMW solo and am concerned about the fords because I'm only 5'3".
    Which fords are the deepest?
    Are the ropes that are strung across some of the fords reachable for a short person?
    What month would be my best bet for low waters?
    Thank you for your advice!

  2. #2
    Registered User lumberjaime's Avatar
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    Conditions will vary year to year. Watching the snow on Katahdin should be a good indicator of when snow-melt will be impacting fords the most. That said, I would say June would not be the best time for someone anxious about crossings. I experienced many knee-deep fords, and one crotch-deep (6'0", more legs than torso). IIRC, the Carabasset was my deepest ford, but I know for a fact that the East Branch of the Pleasant River was the scariest. That one is deep, narrow, fast-moving with an uneven bottom. Crossing the Wilsons (Big and Little) was a bit hairy, too.

    I'll wait for some of the HMW experts with more experience than me to chime in, they will likely have better information for different parts of the season.
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    Conditions vary for sure... on my thru I hit the HMW early August and had to ford 1 river. That actually was my only ford of my entire thru. Actually rock hopped 3/4 but hit a spot where the jump to the next rock was a little lengthy so I got wet.
    You should be able to reach the ropes. But like previously stated depths and best time vary greatly year to year


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    Registered User ScottTrip's Avatar
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    I am only 5'5" and had no problems. Some of the fords are setup with a rope to assist, you will be fine.

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    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Really depends on the year. Ladt year, they were all ankle deep. Even my 5'2" girlfriend just walked through them. But, looking at the riverbanks, we know the water can be much higher.

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    Registered User Water Rat's Avatar
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    to White Blaze!

    As has been said it really depends on the year... If you are picking a time to go, July - Sept would be optimal for fords being low. However, keep in mind a good rain can make a couple of those fords run deep and fast. That just means waiting a bit to allow the water to subside. If you are aiming for just one month to pick from I would say August would be your best bet.

    One thing to know about the HMW is that if you are there July-Sept and you feel uncomfortable about a crossing, someone will most likely be coming along soon. Hikers are generally a helpful bunch and most would not mind at least talking you across the fords.

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    I hiked last September and it was no problem what-so-ever. Knee deep to a four footer. Minus a late summer hurricane South bounders will always have more trouble with high rivers than North bounders.

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    Springer to Elk Park, NC/Andover to Katahdin
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    Hiked it in August and only remember two ankle deep fords.
    I am not young enough to know everything.

  9. #9

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    Does anyone unhook their hip belt anymore when crossing a river, I always have.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    Does anyone unhook their hip belt anymore when crossing a river, I always have.
    Yes and the chest strap too, even if it's just two feet deep. Falling face first into running water with the water pressure on your pack can make it difficult to get up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Don H View Post
    Yes and the chest strap too, even if it's just two feet deep. Falling face first into running water with the water pressure on your pack can make it difficult to get up.
    chest strap too...good point.

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    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    Does anyone unhook their hip belt anymore when crossing a river, I always have.
    if its a real ford, yes. Last year, I cant think of a real ford in the HMW. The water was that low. The ropes didn't seem to be convenient to my 6ft self. I should drive up to see Little Wilson Falls some weekend early this year and see what real high water looks like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    Does anyone unhook their hip belt anymore when crossing a river, I always have.

    Anyone inflate their air mattress before crossing? I had one crossing (not on the AT) where I had to swim across, but it was a day hike and didn't have one, but would have considered it if I did, at least to try to float the backpack across.

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    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    Anyone inflate their air mattress before crossing? I had one crossing (not on the AT) where I had to swim across, but it was a day hike and didn't have one, but would have considered it if I did, at least to try to float the backpack across.
    Army Rangers use their packs as flotation devices. No reason a backpacker couldn't.

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by egilbe View Post
    Army Rangers use their packs as flotation devices. No reason a backpacker couldn't.
    One more reason to read The Complete Walker.
    A trash compactor bag lining your pack and rolled closed would provide adequate flotation. No reason to stop and inflate an air mattress.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    Does anyone unhook their hip belt anymore when crossing a river, I always have.
    Hip belt, sternum strap, and loosen shoulder straps. You betcha!
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rain Man View Post
    Hip belt, sternum strap, and loosen shoulder straps. You betcha!
    Same here. I also remove my dog's pack and attach it to mine if it's more than 8" deep and moderate to fast flowing.

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    Registered User rtfi's Avatar
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    About the ropes, I think they are there to help guide you to the best place to cross and not primarily to provide support, so I don't think it matters that much if you are able to reach it. By support, I mean help prevent you from falling. The ropes are generally loose enough to provide only minimal support. That was my experience, at least.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rtfi View Post
    About the ropes, I think they are there to help guide you to the best place to cross and not primarily to provide support, so I don't think it matters that much if you are able to reach it. By support, I mean help prevent you from falling. The ropes are generally loose enough to provide only minimal support. That was my experience, at least.



    The ropes, which are cables IIRC, I believe were to clip the packs to with the carabiner you brought to allow you to slide your pack along.

    A rock cairn on both sides, or blazes could and is usually used to indicate the prefered crossing point.

  20. #20
    Registered User rtfi's Avatar
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    I guess I am remembering the ones with ropes. I don't have any of my own pictures here at work, but this is one in the 100 mile wilderness similar to what I remember:

    https://static.rootsrated.com/image/...zpelevj4kp.jpg

    I remember the ford of the Piscataquis being a rope even more filmsy than the one in this picture.
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