Flash floods in Finger Rock wash
I finally got out for a Suburban Assault loop today. I’ve been on the horrible tasting medication for Giardia for a day and I’m already feeling better, so I guess I really have it. Of course, this means I didn’t escape the GDMBR unscathed as I have been touting off. No flat tires, no mechanicals, almost perfect weather…. but the GDMBR still has one last difficulty left for me. We filtered all our water and were generally very careful, but of course as all trips go on you get less and less careful.
I felt like crap in the morning, but I’ve waited too long to ride through the foothills of the Catalinas. I wasn’t up early by any standards, however there was a thick blanket of clouds over the valley so I knew I’d have a nice morning.
Climbing through the many homes of the foothills, I watched the lightning crack to the northwest–a rare morning thunderstorm here in monsoon season. I quickened my pace, to which my body responded with a firm “no, thank you.”
I got a tiny sprinkle before heading east onto Skyline, where I started feeling much better. I could see storm clouds all around, but they were not moving quickly. I dropped behind the guard rail into Finger Rock wash to see if there was any water coming down. It looked pretty dry, so I cruised along.
Before I reached the culvert it was pouring cats, dogs and everything in between. I thought about waiting it out as the cars zoomed over my head on Sunrise, but I was worried about flooding and it looked clear to the south.
It was clear to far south, but first it was much worse. The rain turned to huge drops and the road/trail was a river of water and mud. It was a world of refreshment, but my thoughts turned to the upcoming wash crossings.
I crossed one with maybe 3 inches of water in it, so I kept rolling thinking the rest would be similarly low.
The next wash had 3-4 feet of water gushing into it from a side stream that we being fed from the heart of slow moving storm.
Ok, I’ve got to get out of here, fast.
I went off the trail to cross the wash before the side stream came. There was only a tiny bit of water at the bottom, but I still had to scramble up the mud on other side. I rode as fast as I could towards the end of the trail, where I knew I had 2 more wash crossings to deal with. I had no idea which washes feed into each other, but I also knew that since there were 2 crossings I could bushwhack and avoid both if I needed to. Then, I’d be on the (relative) safety of the pavement.
I reached the first crossing just as the water did. 4-5 inches of muddy water was cruising down the wash, with everything in front of it completely dry. Very cool. I saw it coming towards my crossing but it beat me by a few seconds. I splashed through then hammered out a few swift pedal strokes to put me ahead of the water. I crossed just in front of it.
I was actually cold rolling down the Alvernon hill. What a ride…. rain, rushing water, stream crossings, being cold…. on Suburban Assault… in the middle of summer.
I think suburbo was getting back at me after I mocked myself for riding the trail with a fender back in June. The fender was on for the GDMBR and was ridiculous at the time. But today it might not have been a bad idea.
18 miles, 1000 feet of climbing.