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Don't camp in creekbeds
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Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/06/2013 07:48:51 MST Print View

Those of you who hike the Southwest already know this, but coming from the Pacific Northwest, this video was a real eye-opener.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/06/2013 07:57:51 MST Print View


When you walk the canyons and see the debris from the high water line you look keep your eyes open for the high ground.

And as he mentions, the downpour can be well out of sight. Canyon hiking requires "canyon consciousness".

Edited by greg23 on 11/06/2013 08:00:44 MST.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
too far away on 11/06/2013 08:00:31 MST Print View

The trippy thing for me is how far away the rainfall can be to affect you where you are. How the heck do you prepare for that? What do folks that wander canyons regularly do to prevent being caught?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: too far away on 11/06/2013 08:05:13 MST Print View

As you say, don't sleep in the wash.

When picking a camp look at the slick rock around you. If you are beside a wall with dark water stains from previous flows you maybe at risk.

I witnessed water coming over the rim and cutting a 12' wide by 8' deep trench to the wash. We never saw a cloud or heard the thunder. We did notice the notch in the rock and the water stains, and put the kitchen well off to one side.

When hiking slot canyons you pay attention to the long range, and wide area, forecast.

Edited by greg23 on 11/06/2013 08:09:56 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/06/2013 11:04:26 MST Print View

Nice video. I like the guy's explanation at the beginning. I'm impressed he could predict which drainage, so far away, would result in a debris flow in that channel.

Reminded me (on a small scale) of how firewood is gathered in some Yukon River communities - they lasso it as it floats by.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Re: Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/06/2013 11:19:52 MST Print View

That's mental.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/06/2013 12:10:06 MST Print View

That pretty impressive forecasting. Luckily not a major problem in the NE for me ;) though we do get higher rivers later in the day with snowmelt or rain up higher.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/06/2013 12:34:33 MST Print View

"That pretty impressive forecasting."

He's "chases" flash floods. He's gotten good at it. When I'm in the area, and it seems like an "opportunity" is there, I do my best. But it's a big country, and unless you really know the lay of the land it's hard to hit it right.

But I have had a couple of "surprises", and they were pretty satisfying.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Re: Re: Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/06/2013 13:09:07 MST Print View

Yea, that is what I meant. he has put in time and knows his stuff. i'd guess it is almost like avalanche forecasting .. you can look at conditions and then precip and have a pretty good idea where the common slides will be.

Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Don't camp in creekbeds or certain other places on 11/06/2013 14:58:22 MST Print View

In my youth I once camped on a sandy bench at the base of a large, pretty granite dome in the Southern Sierra Nevada. In the afternoon we had a violent thunderstorm with lots of rain. It wasn't a dry experience when the water came cascading down the face of the dome!

Chris Murdock
(emandchris) - F

Locale: North East Georgia
Wow! on 11/06/2013 17:44:18 MST Print View

Thanks for the education...having never hiked in the SW, I never would have imagined the power behind a rain storm 50 mi away. Your video was an AWESOME example why one needs to consider all environmental factors. Nice Job!

Desert Dweller

Locale: Wild Wild West
floods in SW on 11/06/2013 18:21:23 MST Print View

You can hear them coming if the wind is blowing towards sounds like the wind blowing through leaves, but there are no trees....we have seasonal desert floods here where I live. The last one I heard for a good ten minutes before it hit the wash on my ranch. We live in a flood plain seven minutes driving time from our canyons.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/06/2013 20:14:12 MST Print View

That was pretty cool. I have seen debris flows that included full grown mature palm trees.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: too far away on 11/06/2013 20:17:48 MST Print View

"The trippy thing for me is how far away the rainfall can be to affect you where you are. How the heck do you prepare for that? What do folks that wander canyons regularly do to prevent being caught?"

Don't sleep below the high-water line, know the weather forecast for the entire floodplain, always have an eye out for escape routes, and pray you will not be hit by a 100 year flood.

creek on 11/17/2013 09:23:12 MST Print View

commercial campground Albert Pike in Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas, couple years ago.

Heavt rain storm in middle of night several miles away, brought Little Missouri River up 23ft in minutes.

22 people drowned in middle of night. At a commercial campground. This type of flood had not happened there before, although the potential was known.

I hiked thru there about 6 months after. The debris from peoples lives was sobering. Clothing, shoes, tents, sleeping bags, childrens toys. Imagining what they must have experienced that night in the dark not pleasant.

Observe the rocks and boulders in creeks. How did they get there? Why are they round and polished? Think.

water guage many miles downstream from that night. The USGS had a guage AT albert pike that was much more revealing. They discontinued it in 2011 and data seems to be gone now.

water level

Edited by livingontheroad on 11/17/2013 09:45:18 MST.

Leigh Baker

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
flash flood on 11/17/2013 11:38:21 MST Print View

Wow, what an adrenaline junkie! :-D...I think it would be awesome to see one, from a safe distance of course. I grew up in the Texas Hill Country where FF are pretty common and learned early to know the weather a far piece off so to speak.

@livingontheroad, I do ERL about once a year, and I always think of the folks that lost their lives that night. Coming off Viles Branch and up toward Winding Stairs, is an especially solemn spot.

peter vacco

Locale: no. california
Re: Don't camp in creekbeds on 11/17/2013 12:08:30 MST Print View

Great Video ! love it !!

old reprint of long ago : concerns the recent interest in northern walking.

" In the steep mountains the are numerous gullies feeding the canyons in which one will walk. Each gully has it’s own little fan shaped debris field, and many of these look like perfect camp sites. Feel free to not use these as camps early in the season (May/June). Slush flows, which are tsunami like landslides of ice, gravel, mud, and large rocks, can flush over them in a heartbeat. The warning as such, which sounds like an airliner about to land on your tent, allows insufficient time to flee. Whenever one is camping near a gully outlet, or in downstream range of one, it may be wise to set up a bit high on the slope next to a large bush. The fantasy being that the bush has seen many seasons and has yet to be buried. Your basic slush flow has considerable velocity and can carry some way across the valley. One can view their remains at the outlet debris fields in many places. If one finds a winding path of hard packed snow/rocks in concert with perhaps a 5’ high wall of drying mud, you got yourself a flow. These are predominantly an early season thing. One can view up a gully and gauge the amount of debris still to descend. A prime event ready to occur will reveal snow covering some of the high ground, with a bloated slug of it laying in the groove and ideally this having a distinct blue’ish hue. Something like that will be gone by morning. Consider that it’s probably not the only one around and plan accordingly. "

David and Buck can explain it better, but the idea is .. be aware the one is actually outside, and that it doesn't much care.

in real life, we've had one of these beasts slobber right by the tents. it was awesome (terrifying is what it was). it was also very convenient that we'd recently had a tiff over whether to camp at the bottom of that very spot ... or not.
moral : it's better manners to keep your partner/client alive than to let them have their way.