Crossing a stream in ice-cold weather is something you may have to do in a survival situation. I am tired of reading all the bad advice provided on the internet. First of all, avoid this if at all possible. Secondly, search for a ford where the width of the stream is small and the current not strong. Ropes are all well and good if you have them. Some sites state "face upstream". I'm not sure how you do that unless you are walking sideways. Use a good strong staff, or walking stick to probe (for depth) and provide three points of contact. This is simply a long pole, or walking stick. Now here is where I differ, based on military survival training. The method used by the Inmun Gun communist army (North Koreans) during the Korean War in the early 1950's was to remove their clothing. If it is a shallow stream, just remove your pants, socks and boots. You have two pairs of socks and keep one pair on. Just to keep your feet from being cut on stones. If you have one set of clothing and become soaked, it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to dry the clothing when you get to the other side. Forget about the fiction of finding wet wood in the snow and trying to start a fire from twigs while your pants freeze to your thighs. You will never dry off your leather boots and will end up with frostbite and amputated toes. Carry boots/shoes above your head and keep them dry. Wet clothing and a freezing night means death. Dry clothing means life. No matter what you think, a minute of submerging part of your body in freezing water will not kill you. The Polar bear club goes swimming this way every year. When you get to the other side, holding all your dry clothing above your head, dry yourself and get into nice dry clothing.
Unless you have one hundred percent ordinary cotton or wool socks, when you attempt to dry them (after crossing a stream, for example) you may find they will disintegrate when placed near a fire. This is especially true of so-called "diabetic socks" or those that contain synthetic elastomeric fibres or rayon. They simply won't take any kind of heat. Such socks have to be air-dried in the sun.
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