Author Topic: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream  (Read 1614 times)

haflander

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Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« on: December 19, 2018, 03:33:37 PM »
Hey there. I moved to a new place last month and have begun exploring the terrain. The walk to work is <30 min and ~1.5 miles, which was a big reason why we settled on the apt. Now, those #s are for the long way around a creek separating my apt from a very convenient shortcut, which would cut off at least 5 min and maybe closer to 10. I did a lot of exploring on both sides of the creek and simply did not find any good or easy way to cross it due to at least two of the following: extensive brush; steep sides; and water all the way across.

One spot specifically would be a perfect place for a crossing if one already existed; I explored the areas on both sides. The good news is that both sides are public areas and not privately owned by a resident or the govt.

The only things prohibiting me from crossing this stream are about 5' of 2" deep water and a steep incline on one side. I could technically cross it with hiking boots and getting wet and dirty, but don't want that to be the routine every day getting to work. I'd much rather put in a few hours of sweat equity such that I can cross the thing dry and non-dirty with tennis or old running shoes on days with good weather. I would not try to cross it during rain or the wetness thereafter, it would be too dangerous with higher water and slippery earth. Brush will not be an issue on either side, they're both clear.

Idea: I want to find a few large stones to plant into the stream to make it easy to cross. Other than that, I want to build some steps into one side to make it easier to climb. I imagine the second part would take some scrap wood and digging ~5 flat spots into the earth to jam the wood into place. It's an incline that can already be traversed on foot (maybe ~45 degrees?), but I want to make it easier.

Disclaimer: please be kind and know that Idk anything about this stuff and will prolly ask stupid ?s. I'm a baby mustachian looking to do something innovative and get my hands dirty in order to shorten my walking commute and think outside the box.

?s: I'm guessing you can find free big rocks/stones and wood on CL? What are things I haven't considered? I know this will be harder than it is in my head...but in what way? What were the first things that came to your mind when reading? Anyone done something like this before?

I may post some pics in the future if I get around to it and figure out how. For now, it's about time to quit work for the day and wander on home. Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice!!

jpdx

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2018, 04:37:51 PM »
Why not ride a bicycle the 1.5 miles and cut your commute down to 10 minutes?

HipGnosis

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2018, 05:52:31 PM »
For 2" of water, the simple solution is rubber boots you slip over your shoes, and a heavy plastic bag to carry the boots in.
But it's quite possible / probable that it won't be 2" all year round.
Putting some stones in the stream is easy, but it's possible that someone else could move or remove them.
You better allow for not being able to take your shortcut on any given day.

Wood you "jam" into the earth is going to rot rather quickly unless you treat it.  Most treated wood is slippery when wet, even from dew.  Depending on the soil, you might be able to put some gravel on 'flats' you dig out.

Dave1442397

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2018, 05:19:24 AM »
We have a stream in our back yard, and one of our neighbors made concrete steps using plastic 5-gallon paint buckets. He lined the buckets with heavy duty plastic, then filled them with cement and let it dry by the stream. When it had set, he picked a spot for the step and flipped the bucket upside down, releasing a 5-gallon concrete step. I think he made five steps in the end. I can't see them now because we've had so much rain that the water level is way over them.

haflander

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #4 on: December 20, 2018, 08:21:31 AM »
I do want to bike, but I need to do some long-overdue maintenance on my old crappy bike, especially the tires. I'm not sure how it'll work out in terms of timing, energy, and the battle with the alarm clock...but I foresee a split somewhere around 40/40/20 bike/walk/drive, depending on weather and doing errands after work. My plan is to bike on cold/hot weather days to limit the suck or if I need to race to beat incoming rain. I enjoy walking, so I'd like to do that if there is tolerable weather in the morning and it's nice after work, or vice versa. Fall and spring has many of those kinda days, even winter to a lesser degree.

The good news about the location of the creek is that it's very close to my apt. It would take less than 5 min to get there in the morning and if conditions don't work, then I haven't lost much time by turning around and going the long way. For the walk home it would be more of a PITA, but that would be fine because the time I get home isn't important.

My guess is 2" is the average. We're in a wet time of the year right now but not much rain this week. I just now realized that there's a good chance the stream will be dry for most, if not all, of our hot and dry summer.

Rural

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2018, 01:43:11 PM »
Stones would mak better steps than wood. A sandstone or other sedimentary for traction would be ideal.


Look upstream and down for native rocks that might serve your purpose for both steps and stepping stones. There may be usable ones in the stream or along the banks.

haflander

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2018, 01:50:41 PM »
Thanks rural, I'll do that as soon as I get home one day before the sun sets. For someone with such a high post count, I don't think I've seen you around before...admittedly, I don't spend any time in the DIY section. I hope to change that in 2019!

Rural

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2018, 02:30:09 PM »
Thanks rural, I'll do that as soon as I get home one day before the sun sets. For someone with such a high post count, I don't think I've seen you around before...admittedly, I don't spend any time in the DIY section. I hope to change that in 2019!


I do seem to be reading a lot but posting a lot less than I once did - post count is high because I've been around here since early 2013.

Brother Esau

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2018, 04:52:54 PM »
Please post a pic of the crossing. That would help in knowing what would be best. I've built a number of bridges for hiking and biking stream crossings. Stone armoring maybe be enough also if the flow isn't too deep.

gavint

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2018, 12:13:46 AM »
I second the idea of placing native stones in the creek to step across.  They won't impede the water flow, will provide habitat for water creatures, won't pollute the water (as treated wood would do), and won't disrupt the ecology of the stream.  They also won't be too obviously human made, which is important - built structures on public land in a city are magnets for vandalism. 

sequoia

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2018, 04:18:50 AM »
For 2" of water, the simple solution is rubber boots you slip over your shoes, and a heavy plastic bag to carry the boots in.
But it's quite possible / probable that it won't be 2" all year round.
Putting some stones in the stream is easy, but it's possible that someone else could move or remove them.
You better allow for not being able to take your shortcut on any given day.

Wood you "jam" into the earth is going to rot rather quickly unless you treat it.  Most treated wood is slippery when wet, even from dew.  Depending on the soil, you might be able to put some gravel on 'flats' you dig out.


+1 for rubber boots you slip over your shoes, or wear waterproof hiking boots. Hiking boots would be my choice. 

Placing rocks/stones/wood will probably will work for short period of time. How deep does the stream gets during rainy days? Whatever you place in the stream will most likely get carried away by water unless they are anchored into the ground. Even if the a big rock is not moved by water, the foundation will get eroded and that change the placement and stability of the rock. Next time you step on it, it may tilt to one side, then you can sprain your ankle, hit your head etc. Not to mention wet rocks get slippery.

If I am the one who need to do this daily. I rather step into mud or gravel in 2" of water than hopping from one rock to another trying not to get wet. Getting wet and muddy is inconvenience at most. Possibility of spraining my ankle, falling and injuring myself that is not a risk I want to take.

It amazes me how many times I have seen people trying to jump over/skip over a puddle of water in parking lot or sidewalk, only to slip and fall when their feet land on the ground on the other side of the puddle.
« Last Edit: December 21, 2018, 04:24:25 AM by sequoia »

Fishindude

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2018, 10:57:54 AM »
Any trees where you could do a Tarzan rope to swing across?

BDWW

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2018, 02:35:58 AM »
I too don't understand your aversion to hiking boots. A decent set of hiking boots will easily handle 2" of water, and stay dry. And it sounds like you would still have a fair distance to walk afterwards, meaning your boots will likely self clean if they get a bit muddy.

mrmoonymartian

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2018, 03:04:55 AM »
<30mins? Continue running around the long way. Ride your bike if time matters that much.

Miss Tash

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #14 on: December 27, 2018, 01:48:12 PM »
3" stilts

gaja

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #15 on: December 27, 2018, 02:10:23 PM »
Is it narrow enough anywhere that you can make a simple bridge across it? https://goo.gl/images/iyoswn

soccerluvof4

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2018, 08:02:10 AM »
Go to your local Stone pit and grab 3-4 pieces of 3" jagged Flagstone from the areas natural stone about 2-3' wide.

Car Jack

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2018, 09:55:44 PM »
Whether you've got the stone locally depends on where you are.  I happen to live in an area where if I dig more than 4 feet down, I hit granite.  Plenty of rocks around to build my stone walls.  But if there are none, then sure....check out stone suppliers for walls, walkways and other masonry stuff. 

Ok, now I'll be Captain Obvious.  Big rocks are really heavy.  The idea of flat rocks is good because you can limit the thickness to what you need and no thicker at a supplier.  Have a way to get the stones to the stream without just carrying them in your hands.  At least a wheel barrow. 

HipGnosis

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2018, 11:01:36 AM »
Drywall/painters stilts?  With some good traction material glued to the bottoms?

haflander

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2019, 09:11:16 AM »
Sorry for the absence...I try to stay away during time off and only waste time here when in the office.

I spent some more time exploring and have moved some natural stones for steps across the creek. After I was able to cross the creek from the other side, I found a way up zig-zagging across natural stone, which will be much easier than trying to go straight up the incline. In any case, hiking boots may still be worth it, so I will keep that in mind.

I was hoping to start 2019 in a badass way by walking to work, but it's in the 30s and raining or wintry mix precip for the next 2 days. I'm curious to see how this affects the big stones, if they're washed away. Maybe Friday will be dry enough to try, we'll see.

Anyway, thanks for all of your ideas. Not all of them are applicable in my situation but hopefully they will be useful for someone looking for a similar solution in the future.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2019, 06:37:43 PM »
I would like to come at this from a different direction.

Depending on your state or potentially the federal government, that stream could be considered waters of the state; depending on how closely connected to navigable waters it is. Failing that it is could be considered a wetland. Your "natural" idea of placing stones in the water to create a bridge could be considered placing fill in/filling in a wetland. Something that may, at the very least, require notification to a regulatory agency. 

What are "public lands" that are not either privately owned nor owned by the government? I find it hard to believe that there is not an entity that owns or is responsible for that piece of property. I wouldn't be surprised if you could find the owner quickly here (https://maps.dcad.org/prd/dpm/). You could always get involved in the community and petition that some sort of crossing be constructed.

I would simply carry a pair of slip over boots for the crossing or invest in work-pleasing-in-appearance pair of water proof shoes.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2019, 06:39:18 PM by BudgetSlasher »

kenmoremmm

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2019, 09:29:57 PM »
pavers or retaining wall blocks from home depot. $1 each.

haflander

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2019, 09:08:21 AM »
Update...we had two days of rain last week. All of the big stones were washed away. I'm not even bothering to find new ones to replace them. If this stream goes from two inches to 6+ then there's no point. Sequoia was right.

I also considered a "simple bridge" as gaja said. Even more intriguing...I found a big piece of plywood while exploring that I could just drag to my crossing spot. However, with the rain and deep water situation, I doubt that would stay in place.

At this point, I'm considering investing in hiking boots that will withstand walking through a couple inches of water. The pullover boots are an option, but I don't want to carry them both ways. Does anyone have suggestions for hiking boots that would work in this situation? Looking for the best combination of durability, price, and resilience with mud/water. Ebay could be a good solution...time to do some digging around the forum for a thread with ideas.

SweatingInAZ

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Re: Building a Natural Crossing Across a Small Stream
« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2019, 03:01:34 PM »
Offerup and craigslist can be your friend! Look for a gore-tex layer. Be sure to search for multiple spellings of it (gore-tex, goretex, gortex, ... ) to find the best ones.

I recently bought a pair of waterproof military boots locally for $20, wore them for a week hiking in Iceland, and then sold them on ebay for $60! Considering ebay fees and the time I invested to find a fitting pair, I probably broke even.

Burlington stores also had an awful lot of waterproof boots. It's easy to check the waterproof depth by seeing how far up the tongue is attached to the rest of the boot. I just learned that this is called a 'gusseted tongue'

Have you tried pole-vaulting?