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Flash flood awareness

Howdy campers. This has been an odd year as far as local weather is concerned. We are having a record drought, yet we’re also seeing violent thunderstorms pretty regularly this last week. This is a dangerous combo.

Think of the ground as a sponge. When that sponge is totally dried out, water can run right across the surface with very little absorption. Now apply the same principal to the ground. In a sudden rainstorm the earth doesn’t have time to soak up enough water to give it the ability to soak up that water. So, just like the sponge, the water runs right across it or in this case, down. When choosing a campsite in the near future, look at what’s up hill from you. If there’s very sparse vegetation and a lot of hard dry soil, a burst of rain could leave you running for higher ground. Camping in a ravine or gully causes twice the potential for water, but the danger goes up markedly. That ravine will fill up just like a river in a lot less time than you would think. Unfortunately many people are either hurt or even killed by flash flood conditions each year.

Another problem this year has been the fires. By stripping away what vegetation there was, they have left the hillsides completely bare of anything that would slow the water down causing conditions for a super-flash flood. Again, compounded multiple times by being in between two such hills.

So please be aware of your intended campsite and it’s location relevant to any hills. If you are unfamiliar with reading a topo (topographical) map, this site can show you how. Use that to familiarize yourself with the surrounding topography. If you’re unsure of your location’s condition, call the local forestry office and ask.

Be safe out there campers!

Until next time, I’ll see you on the trail

Today’s (not so) Quick Tip: With the rain being so prevalent this year (in the mountains that is) it’s a good time to renew your equipment's waterproofing. For this I prefer the Gear Aid line of products from McNett. One key difference between Gear Aid and its competitors is that washing and drying the garment in the solution re-binds the repellent to the fibers. Most other companies sell products that work more like a wax for a car. It places a water resistant barrier over the top of the garment. They both work very well at first, but the Gear Aid products are known to last much longer.

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