CJR Escalante Adventure 2005 – Day 18

Synopsis: Flood! Heavy rains cause flood near camp. Hike out to Deer Creek trailhead. Backpacking; June 3. View Day 18 route map.

The weather was crummy all night. It rained off and on throughout, and in the morning I lay in my bag for quite a while, wanting to get up but not badly enough to get up in the rain. Finally there was a lull, and I got up and started my morning fooling around and some packing. Charles and John got up. Then it started raining again. Fortunately, it didn’t rain too long, and it looked like there was clear weather in store for a while. I started breakfast: breakfast burritos. They were OK, but I over-spiced them.


Jeri, Kathleen, Karen, and Mark enjoy a brief lull in the weather.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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We were maybe halfway packed when it started raining again. I alternated between hiding in the tent and continuing to pack. For a while it was really bucketing, with hail, etc. Eventually I got packed and took my pack over to where John was hiding in an alcove. Somewhere during this time, the flooding began, with a small nose of water peeking out of a small wash across from camp. Then, later, a slow-moving but fairly substantial flood flowed around the bend down the main wash.


We got water! The wet stuff emerging from the small wash.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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Jeri and Mark scope things out as the small flood extends into the wash.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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The frothy main flood coming around the bend.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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The nose of the flood moved at about moseying speed...

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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...but there was quite a lot of water backing it up.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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Soon, there was a very substantial, rushing, muddy creek where there had been only a dry wash a few minutes earlier.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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The water continued to rise. We were concerned about further rising water and additional flash floods. We were in a wide part of the canyon, so there was little worry about being swept away and drowned, but a few more inches of water and lots of gear would be soaked and/or swept away. We eventually decided to keep packing in place but to post a lookout watching upcanyon for further flooding.

The rain continued at a reduced pace and it was pretty miserable. We had been planning to all hike out via The Gulch. Given the flooding, this was looking less and less likely. The packers were due at 11:00, but anything could happen in this weather. Charles, John, and I, who were already packed, decided to bug out just before then, and we actually ran into the packers exactly on time almost immediately after we left camp. (Mark very generously lent us his car keys so we could do our car shuttle as soon as we got out and head for Boulder without waiting.) We hiked towards the Deer Creek trailhead, reversing the route the llama people had taken in, following the tracks of the incoming llamas.

Shortly after we gained the canyon rim, the rain quit for the day. We changed out of our rain gear, but we had decided to wade across the flood in our boots (in retrospect, this was kind of stupid) and we were stuck with soggy boots for the whole five miles out.

Our side canyon curved around, and soon the trail descended back in and followed it for a while, necessitating more wading. Blech.


Looking downcanyon from where the trail returned to the wash bottom.

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The same spot a couple of hours later when my dad passed it.

Photo by Bill Priedhorsky.
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Traveling upcanyon in the wash. Charles in the foreground; John is visible a few hundred yards ahead.

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After leaving the wash, we followed a well-worn pack trail back to the Deer Creek trailhead.


Fresh snow on the Aquarius Plateau.

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This is the obligatory “After” photo.

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Speaking for myself at least, I was very much ready for clean sheets, a shower, and civilization. We did the car shuttle and then drove into Boulder, where we checked into Pole’s Place for the night (courtesy of Marilyn, thanks Marilyn!). I showered, unpacked, and relaxed. It was great.

We had a wonderful dinner at Hell’s Backbone Grill, and headed out the next morning for home. Charles was home that evening, but John and I were due for an extremely boring three days. The only excitement was a windshield wiper coming disconnected during a heavy rain/snowstorm in the Rocky Mountains and making horrible screeching noises for two miles, and a visit with my cousin Katie Kellner in Boulder, Colorado. We arrived home in Minneapolis on June 6.

That’s all, folks!

I hope you enjoyed our trip report. If you like, you can continue reading on the bonus page: Flowers.

E-mail: reid@reidster.net
Copyright © 1999-2013 Reid Priedhorsky. Last modified: 2009-11-01 16:15 CST. Disclaimer.