Old Fashioned Exploration - New Technologies - Stream Wading
Following the oldest trails
The first explorers followed rivers and streams to explore the land around them. Even today, that's the first place fishing enthusiasts, photographers, geologists and naturalists go. They're excellent land markers, often expose natural features and unique mineralogy, attract many wildlife species, and are a constant source of water for diverse and unusual plantlife.
New Technology and Innovations
We've all hiked the trails, sometimes along streams and rivers. But it's more fun to walk right up the stream as a natural pathway. Many of the new boots and equipment can help you maintain your footing, give you extra ankle support, and grip slippery surfaces. They're excellent for fishing, stream hiking, and close-up exploring.
Stream walkers and non-slip shoes
Stream wading can be very dangerous. Rocks are often slippery. Unstable underfooting could send you tumbling into the water, onto rocks, or cause you to injure an ankle. There are some extremely well-made hiking shoes just for this purpose. LL Bean's Stealth Waders provide solid ankle support, and with tungsten grips on the soles, slippery rocks are easily navigablejust make sure they're not going to roll or slide before you take that next step. Felt soles also limit slipping, and can be purchased as sandals, shoes or boots.
Most of these shoes are porous, and the water will seep in as soon as they're submerged. Spring and fall, wear a pair of neoprene socks. After the first initial chill, the cold water quickly warms up and stays warm for long periods, just like a wet suit. They're perfect for fishing, hunting, or just hiking the streams. In summer, depending on the water temperature, you can go without socks and remain comfortable. In fact, in a warm stream on a hot day, you won't be able to keep your feet cool enough with neoprenes on.
Opticals & Sunglasses
To get the most out of your experience, you'll want excellent water visibility with a set of polarized lenses. Look for glasses that provide 100% UV protection. You'll be able to see the fish, watch out for deep pockets and loose boulders, and protect your eyes from UV rays all at the same time. Now that's versatility.
A good day pack will make your trek much more enjoyable. Look for chest and waist straps to disperse the weight and take the load off of your back. Most now have side nets to store water bottles. Some even have a siphoning system so you can easily take a drink without having to remove the pack. You'll want to make sure you have a good first aid kit, insect repellant (the best will have 99-100% deet). You'll need a place to keep food and drink as well. Make sure the shoulder straps and the entire harness are well-padded. You don't want hard objects sticking into or bouncing against your back.
Most important, you'll have the tools you need for your particular type of excursion. You can stash away a retractable fishing pole and seek out the right undercut where that lunker rainbow's been hiding for years. Streams often harbor perennials that have escaped from gardens. You can often find irises, lilies, roses and more for planting around the home. If you look carefully, you'll find a bit of history (or even prehistory) surrounding just about every river and stream. Enjoy discovering your own private pool or set of falls, where nobody goes but you. Rare minerals including gold, silver and gem stones (often mistaken for colored, water-worn glass) are found most easily in river and stream beds where they've been exposed. And this environment is a photographer's playground. There's always a new angle, unusual scene or rare opportunity for a great shot.
Solitude or group fun
For the most part, if you can find a stream or small river that doesn't have a footpath along its entire length, you'll have it pretty much to yourself or group. And if you don't, you'll probably meet some interesting people in your travels. Fisherman, hunters, photographers, naturalists, hikers, explorers and just about everyone you'd meet on a stream has a very unique perspective and knowledge that grows with every journey.
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