Monday, November 24, 2014

The New Little Horse Canyon

 During August and September we had exceptional monsoons. Meaning more frequent than usual, and in some places, more precipitation than usual. Unfortunately quite a lot of that rain came on areas that had just burned, causing a lot of erosion. However, many places in the landscape have evolved to adapt to change (it's just that now we have a lot of non-native species that screw things up!). Regardless, seeing the flood damage gives you an awe of the power of Mother Nature.

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to go hiking up Little Horse Canyon in the North Snake Range in Nevada. We could see new drainage channels heading to the east. They flowed right over the Gandy Road, which is still in poor shape. Whole trees were carried across the road.

We could see why when we got down into the bottom of the canyon. Places thirty feet high were scoured.

some of the rocky banks continue to collapse.

We kept gawking as we walked along, finding debris in trees far above our heads. It would have been so amazing to see this flood. It actually wasn't just one flood event, but at least four.

When we rounded one corner, we could see that the streambed ahead was fifty feet lower. What had happened here?

It turned out the stream had cut down to bedrock and washed everything off it.

On the left side of the photo below, you can make out the old stream channel, which had been cutting through the limestone. It was only a couple feet wide. Now the stream bed is tens of feet wide. It will be so interesting to see what grows back in this area.

The raging creek snapped trees off at their base.

We don't get a whole lot of flash floods in this area, they're more common to the south. But this summer was definitely the time for them. Fortunately very few people live in this area, so although the amount of land moved was immense, the damage done to infrastructure was minimal.

As we left the canyon, we reached the debris flow, where the water slowed down and debris fell out of the current. Trees littered the bench as far as we could see.

It was a really cool hike, and I hope I can visit some of the other places that were flooded this summer. There's something about seeing massive landscape transformations that puts me in my place. Ha!

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