The Swell

I did a slightly foolish thing today, but I had a whole lot of fun doing it. I took Traci and Michael benchmark hunting in the San Rafael Swell, which normally wouldn’t be a bad thing if the weather was good. It’s been raining around here a lot lately, and there was a lot of flash flooding there today. The dirt road crossed one wash and had a concrete bottom to keep from washing out, and there was about 4 inches of water flowing through there, but the Subaru of course had no problems getting through.
Later on in the drive, we turned off the main road onto a rocky little road that led to the top of Little Cedar Mountain. It was a dead-end road, and right after we turned onto it, we crossed a normally dry creek bottom that had about six or eight inches of water running through it only a few feet wide. The water was low enough that I could pick my way through the rocks in the creek bottom, and I just took it nice and slow until we were on the other side. We could see that another storm front was heading our way, but decided to press on anyway. It probably took us 15 or 20 minutes to get to the top of the mountain, where we spent about 10 minutes taking pictures, then headed back. Not surprisingly, the creek had risen another foot or so, and was about 15 feet wide. Our only choices were to wait until the water level went back down, or barge through and hope we made it to the other side. I had no desire to be stuck out there until it stopped raining, since the weather forecast calls for rain until well into next week. I got a run at the creek, and we barrelled through without any apparent problems. We turned back onto the main road and headed east towards Buckhorn Wash, and when I got my speed up to about 40 MPH, I realized that the car seemed to be riding too roughly for how nice the road was. I stopped and got out of the car to check the tires, not really expecting to have a flat, but checking just in case. I noticed a hubcap laying about 50 feet to the left of the road. Then I realized it was a Subaru hubcap. The two left-side wheel covers were still on the car, so I walked around to the right side and saw that the right-rear was completely flat. There was a huge gash in the sidewall, which I must have gotten driving through the creek. So I had to change the tire in the pouring rain, which wasn’t very comfortable.
After I changed it, we drove on and took the turnoff north towards Cleveland. I stopped to take some pictures on Jackass Flat, which is normally dry as a bone, but it had been turned into a huge lake. There were areas where the road was partially washed out or just flooded, but luckily the road was passable. As I was taking some pictures, a car that we’d passed earlier going in the opposite direction approached us going the same direction. The guy driving asked me if I knew where that road led to–apparently he had tried leaving the way we had come from, but that first wash we had crossed was impassable. I’m glad I know my way around the area, or else I would have been freaked out by all the flooding.
Getting a flat tire sucked a little bit, but it made the experience that much more memorable. And I got some great pictures out of the deal, plus I found six benchmarks out of the seven I tried looking for.

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