Canyon Tales
The Flood
by Phillip Rhoades

What an interesting 6 hours. As some on this group may know, I recently purchased a light trailer to live out of while I am residing in Utah. Most recently I moved it down from the mountains to highway 313 outside of Moab and a series of free campsites. I was in campsite cluster B under a cottonwood next to the campsite marker.

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It’s 5:45–6 AM and it’s a big storm. Lightning is getting closer by the minute. I am groggy but aware, mostly aware that my trailer is old and not grounded, attached via a metal trailer hitch. This is my only concern while I lie in bed half awake and listen to rain and thunder. Twenty minutes pass during the storm before the rain stops, and I am unsuccessfully trying to sleep. This was my day off, sleep in late, clean ‘house’ and relax.

Then I hear something quite subtle, not falling rain but definetly water. So I get out of bed and open the door. Humm, flowing water. Humm, my water jug is missing. I get out and grab the other items of camp and put them in my trailer and I begin to think it may be good to clean camp and trailer. I have seen flash floods, this doesn’t seem like one. I am in a designated BLM campsite, sevenmile wash is a ways away (I thought). Think to myself, this could be interesting though. I turn around a few minutes later, since I have been in my truck, and notice water is near the the top of my truck tires and going into my muffler.

This alarms me, it’s gone up almost two feet in a few minutes. This isn’t just the flow from where I am at, I realize—sevenmile is flashing and I am in it! I put on pants and a shirt, grab my shoes and hop outside. The water is swift but I am on a minor hill, so I have time to close the door to my trailer snug. I hop on my bumper to my truck because it is lower and there are a bunch of minor depressions around me that I don’t want to fall into. I hop into my door from above, the water is now to a low spot on my door. I don’t have time for four–wheel—old school hubs and all—so I make the best and try. Luckily, I make it after massacring a nice section of crypto and plants, but it is the only place I can see the depth.

Groggy, wet, and barely understanding what is going on, I watch from the road. It takes 10 minutes for the water to crest to waist height by the trailer. It starts to move; it turns counterclockwise; it’s off its jacks by now. It takes ten more minutes for it to move fifteen feet. I have people with me now, shocked as I am. I have gone from completely helpless, when I was alone, to rather confused yet laughing. I watch for another half hour, it is stuck pretty well.

How many times do you get watch your home float away? To wake up with water where it was dry?

I got out. Everything is fine other than damage to the trailer. I hurried to retrieve it this AM because of impending storms all day long. I didn’t want to push my luck. Toyotas are helpful at moments, even in places the big tow companies don’t want to go.

I will post some photos or quick video I shot as the trailer was floating, but much later. On to cleaning all the mud out and waiting to see if the floor buckles. Fingers crossed, I don’t want any more humbling moments of this magnitude again this year.

September 9, 2005

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© 2005 Phillip Rhoades