Even when I didn’t live right on a creek I made a point of wading in creeks or rivers or just puddles when I had a chance. There’s something about water running over your feet and between your toes that feels good. But to wade requires some special gear.
You’re going to need some footwear you can get wet, unless you like taking off and putting on your shoes all the time. Two words — Chaco sandals. I got my first pair in 2003. I was taking a “yoga for special needs kids” training class in Evanston Illinois with my daughter Cortney. She dragged me into a store to get some sandals to replace the shoes I had to take off and put on before each session. I wore those Chacos out and have purchased several pairs since. They fit so well I’ve even played full court basketball in them. Of course that was a lot closer to 2003 than the present. They even come in camouflage 🙂
Depending on how deep you’re going to wade you need shorts. It’s a drag to want to cross the creek and have to go change pants first, so I wear shorts pretty much year round. I only wore long pants on two days last winter. It was below zero those days so I had a good excuse. Just in case you fall, your shorts should be lightweight enough to dry fairly quick. The stuff in your pockets better be able to handle a dunking too.
You’re going to want to take some pictures while your wading. This means you need a camera that is light and preferably water proof. I carry a Sony DSC-TX5. It’s waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof. Mine’s been dropped, rained on, knocked in the snow, and carried in my pocket when I was soaking wet. It’s still going strong. I really like this camera. No camera is perfect for everything, but the DSC-TX5 is good for almost everything I want to do with a camera. I always have it in my pocket and it can take a dunking.
That said, there are three things about this camera I’d change. The first and most bothersome thing I’d change is the touch screen. Sometimes when you open the camera, if you don’t move your fingers fast enough you put the camera in a strange mode. More than once I’ve found myself taking video when I meant to take a still picture or putting the camera in the mode to view pictures instead of take them.
The touch screen, frequently covered with finger prints and pocket lint, is then expected to double as the view finder. Yikes! More than once I’ve had to assume I have the object I want to photograph in the viewfinder because I couldn’t see what the camera was pointing at.
The second thing I’d change is the automatic macro setting. I want to take close up pictures from time to time. This camera doesn’t focus as close as I’d like and using the touch screen to get to the manual close focus setting is non-trivial. And with the viewfinder being a touch screen it’s problematic telling if your subject is in focus or not.
Finally, the 4X optical zoom is not enough. I have a couple of other cameras with long lenses, but I don’t carry them in my pocket all the time. I wish this one had a better zoom. Yes it does have some digital zoom, but anyone who is serious about taking pictures knows that digital zoom is basically marketing hype.
You’re going to need a good walking stick of you plan to do a lot of wading. I have a whole collection of sticks I’ve picked up in the woods or along the creek. My favorite is a little cedar sapling that I found and cleaned up. It’s light, strong, and feels good in my hands. It’s the stick on the right. The middle stick is a musclewood sapling, also known as hornbeam. It’s very distinctive looking and the heaviest stick I have. Next to that is another cedar. This one was only dead for a season and you can still smell the cedar when you whittle on it. My oldest stick is a hard maple sapling I collected in 1975. I got this stick while I was going to Purdue and running a trap line for mammology class. I still have it. I got it the same year my daughter Rachel was born. Whoops! Did I just give away her age 🙂
You need a good stick to be your third leg when you’re wading and the creek is running out fast and the rocks are slippery. Around here the creek is not always running fast, but the rocks are always slippery. I put a loop of string through the tops of my sticks so when I must have two hands, for things like taking pictures, I can just loop the string over my wrist and let the stick dangle.
And of course you need some friends to wade with. If you fall they’ll keep you from drowning and call for help if needed. I have Lucky and Chili. I’m working on the rescue and call for help thing.