I’ve never seen anything like this flood.

I’ve lived next to this wash for going on eleven years, and I’ve never seen it do anything like this.

Oh, my kingdom for a better camera. I’m standing as close to the end of my driveway as I can get, where it meets the wash. See that tree? That’s an old cottonwood tree. It’s up to its ass in swirling water. The water nearest us isn’t the main channel – the main channel is on the other side of the rapidly-disappearing island, and it’s beyond belief. Just beyond the tree it’s tearing the hell out of that cliff as it turns a sharp right.

Now I’m about 200 yards upstream, on a dune that’s usually quite high above the bed of the wash. It’s getting washed out at a rate that’s making me nervous. I’m looking downstream at what I always intellectually knew was a semi-permanent island at best. Never saw it get covered, though. Wonder how much of it will still be there tonight?

Click this to embiggen. The metallic target stand will probably survive, I don’t think the paper target backstop will. It’s all awash and there’s uprooted vegetation swirling around in there. You can see the foam line on the cliff behind them, where the swells peak. The 25-yard range marker is gone.

Moving upstream now. I have to hurry, the water is still rising and I could be cut off from higher ground. I wouldn’t like that.

Oh, crap. That’s the 100 yard shooting station. The range marker is still there but my expensive iron shooting bench that somebody gave me is completely gone. I wonder if I’ll ever find it downstream. I wonder what shape it’ll be in.

Inside that circle, if you embiggen the photo, you can just barely make out the 200-yard range marker. It used to be in a field of green plants, since the big wide flat part of this elbow of the wash hasn’t been inundated in years. As far as I can tell right now they’re all gone. At least they’re under water.

Getting nervous, bugging out to higher ground.

This is the entrance of the utility road between Ian’s plaza and the wash. The water level’s already dropping. This flood is ferocious but apparently plans to be short-lived, though how long it’ll take to drop off to nothing is anybody’s guess. I’ll not be making the afternoon trip to S&L’s, that’s for sure. Maybe the evening, probably not.

Last picture, looking upstream past Ian’s place. To my surprise there’s a spot here that wasn’t covered, and I’d have sworn it was lower than the island with the cottonwood tree. But the flood level is clearly dropping fast.

In your average flash flood in this wash it’s easy to imagine how a car could be caught, undermined and destroyed. But I’ve never seen one that would have killed me at its worst, if I were caught in it on foot. Never before today, that is. This flood could not only have drowned a man, it would have torn him to pieces.

I really wonder if I’ll ever see my shooting bench again.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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8 Responses to I’ve never seen anything like this flood.

  1. MJR says:

    Well this is probably one of the rather disturbing posts you have made in a while Joel. I hope that the new and improved super secret lair and you remain untouched. I’m sure the firearms stand will turn up in the end. Luck to you my friend. Stay dry.

  2. Joel says:

    Oh, short of being struck by lightning we’ll be fine. We’re well above the river’s flood level – it would have to overflow its banks by 15 feet or so to even get the piers wet. There’s no evidence that that has ever happened. When I built the place I was much more concerned about the gully behind the cabin, which did occasionally flood the cabin’s site. But it’s been bermed and ditched into submission, and every time I re-dig the ditch the berm gets higher. And even if it defeated me, there’s still those concrete piers. In the final emergency, I built the place to withstand a flooding. The piers are well reinforced, and are bonded to reinforced concrete pads 2 feet down. I confess it’s days like this that make me rehearse all the flooding precautions I took when I built the cabin, but they’re all quite sound. I’m much more frightened by lightning than by water.

    But thanks.

  3. Ben says:

    From your description, the Lair might possibly be in (say) a 100-year flood area. There’s nothing unusual about that, lots of homes are in areas more likely to flood than that. Still, that’s something that you might want to consider when you design your skirting system. Would it be better to stop that water from flowing under the building to forestall erosion around the piers? Or would it be better to let the water flow under the floor so that it doesn’t impinge against the structure?

  4. Claire says:

    Damn. In wash terms, that did just about look like the apocalypse. I was also scared for you for a while.

    Let us know where — or if — and when you find that formerly nice shooting bench.

  5. Phssthpok says:

    Requisite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyZD7eoHZT8

    Keep yer powder dry!

  6. Joel says:

    Phssthpok – Damn I wish I’d thought of that.

  7. DT says:

    Reminds me of back home in New Mexico. Where I lived we’d get little rain but the mountains would catch hell. Living way out in the weeds, we paid attention to what was happening in the mountains because our desert washes would turn to muddy, trashy dangerous rivers without so much as a moments warning.

  8. coloradohermit says:

    Stay safe if and when you do your Ghost runs.

To the stake with the heretic!