A group of paddle-packers managed to get themselves out of the water in the nick of time before torrential rains took over the Green River in Canyonlands National Park.
As we know, floods took over some of Utah’s most popular national parks, including Zion, where 200 hikers were left stranded near the Narrows. Further northeast, folks in the Canyonlands found themselves in a similar situation as the storm clouds rolled in.
Matthew Castelli was among the experienced group of paddle-packers who had the equipment and know-how to back up their trip through Canyonlands National Park’s desert landscape. Earlier in the day, the group performed their daily forecast check to make sure conditions were safe enough to get on the water. And at the time, all was clear.
But later in the afternoon, Mother Nature decided to throw a curve ball.
“We saw dark clouds and then lightning off in the distance,” Castelli explained to KSL.com. “We kept checking in with each other then made the receipt to get out about a mile down.”
He continued, “We hurried into an alcove that was a hundred feet above the river.”
Along with Castelli, there were four other canyon country experts in the group that pulled their boats and gear out of the water before the “sheets” of rain began to fall.
“Waterfalls quickly turned brown and choked with mud,” Castelli recalled. “And we started seeing waterfalls in places we didn’t even know there could be waterfalls.”
Paddle-Packers Alive and Well Following Canyonlands National Park Floods
Smartly, the Canyonlands National Park paddle-packers hung their gear to dry and made themselves a makeshift shelter until it was safe enough to proceed. Thanks to their expertise and proper preparation, they came away from the incident without any injuries. They decided to hike out on Sunday, but what they didn’t expect was to see so much foliage and blooms on their way out. They described it as a “surreal” ending to their memorable trip.
Though the group acted quickly and effectively to keep everyone safe and calm, the paddle-packers did learn at least one lesson from the experience. From now on, they plan on checking the weather once in the morning and once at noon to be sure they don’t have to scramble to another alcove.
As for the rest of us adventurers, the story serves as an important reminder that even with all the technology we have at our disposal, sometimes, there are elements we just can’t predict. The best way to stay safe on a long excursion is to prepare for all emergency situations and be able to perform a self-rescue if need be.
Stay safe out there, Outsiders! Even the desert can flood without warning.