'After a very long drought, we were deluged with a powerful September rain storm that sent rain rushing into arroyos and flooding into rivers. No part of town seemed to escape this monster storm.'
Locals will remember the big 2013 storm for a long time to come. After a very long drought, we were deluged with a powerful September rain storm that sent rain rushing into arroyos and flooding into rivers. No part of town seemed to escape this monster storm.
On October 5 a group of us led by Marty, the wrangler at Las Campanas, decided to see what changes the storm had made to Diablo Canyon from the backs of our horses. Our first surprise was that the Old Buckman Road had a washout about 7 miles in and we had to stop the trailers and stage earlier than planned. Once we were on board, we headed down the arroyo to the huge basalt cliffs famous for rock climbing. Today was no exception. The climbers were preparing for ascent at the bottom when we rode in.
The narrow rocky pass between these two basalt guards had lost about a foot of sand, so the terrain had changed. There were many more boulders, and Marty had to scout a path through them to continue our ride. While Marty was safely 20 feet in front of the next horse, the second horse found quicksand. This was a first in devil canyon. The horses back end sunk into his belly. Luckily, the gal was a good rider, and the horse quickly freed himself. The next horse escaped the treacherous spot, and then another horse hit the quicksand and went down. This horse too, quickly freed itself. The key was to walk in the small stream and not venture off onto the seemingly dryer sand.
Once we had conquered the narrow passage, the arroyo opened back up to a familiar wide flat sandy bottom. As we rode, we saw trees with 18” diameter trunks that had been uprooted and washed down stream. There were many rock and mud slides from the cliffs on both sides. The flood must have been something to see, but none of us wanted to be that exposed to Mother Nature during the flood.
As we approached the Rio Grande, the flood had cut an entirely new arroyo to the right of the original arroyo which still stood, but showed little damage from the flood waters. At this point, it was clear that about 14” of the arroyo walls had been washed away into the Rio Grande in addition to the freshly cut arroyo.
At the river, we stopped to give the horses a drink, but few wanted to brave the fast-rushing waters. After a short break, we started back up the arroyo to the trailers. As we approached the rocky section between the basalt cliffs, one of the horses spotted one of the rock climbers high above and spooked. This set off two more horses doing a quick U-ie. Luckily, we were spread out, so the rest of the horses were far enough behind to be unfazed, so the spook was over almost as fast as it happened.
Getting out of the rocky section is uphill and seemingly easier than picking our way down. Now, on mostly flat sandy ground, we make our way back to the trailers. We had gotten more ride than we bargained for but enjoyed every minute. We toasted Diablo Canyon and promised to come back next year.