An isthmus is a narrow bit of land connecting two areas of land and dividing a body of water. I know that when a person on land crosses water at a shallow portion, it's called a "ford" (e.g. "Along the Oregon Trail, we forded several rivers."). Is there a word for a person on water crossing a narrow isthmus to get to the water on the other side?

An example of usage this might be the history of Native Americans building lightweight canoes to be able to carry them over small bits of land between rivers. A sentence might say "The Iroquois built their canoes to be lightweight in order to more easily [this word] the land crossing between X and Y rivers."

I've tried searching for synonyms of "ford" but they mainly apply to water crossings, except for compounds like "cut across" or "pass over." I'm looking for a single, concise verb, if there is one.

  • 2
    Why not "cross an isthmus" ? Or "walk the land between X and Y"?
    – Centaurus
    Jan 19, 2020 at 16:04
  • You could use "traverse" as you are talking about crossing the width of the piece of land.
    – BoldBen
    Jan 20, 2020 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


The more general term is to 'portage' a canoe say around rapids say on a river.


Portage or portaging (Canada: /pɔːrˈtɑːʒ/; US: /ˈpɔːrtədʒ/) is the practice of carrying water craft or cargo over land, either around an obstacle in a river, or between two bodies of water. A path where items are regularly carried between bodies of water is also called a portage.

Early French explorers in New France and French Louisiana encountered many rapids and cascades. The Native Americans carried their canoes over land to avoid river obstacles.

Over time, important portages were sometimes provided with canals with locks, and even portage railways. Primitive portaging generally involves carrying the vessel and its contents across the portage in multiple trips....



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