Escape from Sheep Canyon

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Being prepared, equipped, and open to all possible outcomes is the only way to enjoy the freedom and peace you have once you are there.  – Gary W.

We love sharing stories from the trail, especially when it is from one of our owners. Mostly they are stories about new places traveled, unique wildlife scene, and beautiful pictures captured. We can live vicariously through these stories, and know what we build is giving someone joy.

Recently we received a story that wasn’t all rainbows and cupcakes. It was about a serious scenario that could have ended very badly. Luckily these owners had a lot of experience, skill, and the right tools to make sure they stayed safe. Below is their story and a video how they escaped from Sheep Canyon in the Anza-Borrego Desert. After days of rain and a flash flood the trail that brought them to this wonderful place, quickly became very dangerous.

On Valentine’s Day 2019, The two of us were in Anza-Borrego’s Sheep Canyon when the unexpected happened.  There was a storm that hit this region with 2.8 inches of rain in a 36 hour period. It caused massive flooding below Sheep Canyon, washing out the road we came in on in several places.

We were fortunate to have had our Garmin inReach satellite communicator which provided comfort knowing the State Park Rangers were aware of our situation and that family and friends knew we were safe with plenty of food, water and libations.

The inReach has a weather forecast which I used several times to get updates on the changing weather.  I am still not sure how this storm got to be as significant as it turned out to be.  The weather feature provides details that were not all that useful, such as rain fall amounts predicted in a 2 hour window. Example: 0.08″ with heavy rain. What does that mean?  It turns out that this was significant and serious. We should we have acted and got out before the rains came.

The video shows how a small creek in the desert swells to a rage and the damage it caused to the road we needed to travel in order to get out.  We were fortunate to have time on our side. Monica had just retired and we had no pressing commitments for several weeks.  We waited out the storm and the aftermath. We choose to make the most of it by hiking the area with no other people allowed in (supposedly evacuated and close to visitors).  A strange coincidence happened the day before the storm and the day after the storm.

The day before the storm, we were hiking Indian Creek wash and found a mylar heart shaped balloon from a prior Valentine’s Day.  The day after the storm, we were again hiking the devastation resulting from the storm and found its twin the day after Valentine’s Day. Go figure?  Consequently, we have now joined other angels of the desert picking up Mylar balloons where ever we find them.

Leaving Sheep Canyon was going to be a problem as the rains carved a 4 foot deep and very wide gully across the road.  I was thinking to start digging a ramp to climb out on when I discovered a path out by driving down the wash a few hundred yards and climbing out that way,  This was just the start of our escape.

Shortly after, we got stuck up to the axles in mud.  Our full sized shovel and MaxTrax are my new friends, they got us out!  We camped several more days at the 3rd water crossing waiting for water to subside and mud to firm up.  On crossing day, I laid out the MaxTrax and GoTracs to ensure a solid road and traction through the muddy wash.  It worked, but we soon found many more challenges getting out.

Next up were Rock bolder fields that came exposed where the water had washed away sand, more mud and off camber traverses spiked our adrenaline. Getting out and airing up once we hit pavement was one of the greatest reliefs I have ever felt.

This event is a testimony to the extreme capability built into every EarthCruiser and the confidence to go into places where nature and adventure could turn into misadventure.

Safe travels and keep adventuring.

SqueezeBox, EC FX 35