Saturday, September 20, 2014

Portal after Hurricane Odile, Part 2

The Forest Service has closed the road into Cave Creek Canyon indefinitely. In places the road has been seriously undermined, even washed away. Anyone needing to access the Southwest Research Station will have to approach from Paradise via East Turkey Creek, then turn left and drop down into Cave Creek Canyon.

Bud and Deborah Johnson hiked into South Fork to the trailhead. They report that the road below the bridge is bad. The bridge and two cabins survive intact, with possibly a small amount of flooding in the cabins, but above the bridge, the road to the trailhead is simply gone. The rumor is that the Forest Service may not replace the road at all; I haven't been able to reach anyone who could confirm that.

(I often walk the South Fork road, and don't believe it's a big loss if in the future we have a trail rather than a road for that half-mile above the bridge. Beginning at the junction with the main canyon road, the South Fork road often hosts more species of birds than the trail up the canyon, although most birders don't realize that, and drive right past this excellent habitat in their hurry to get to the trailhead.)

Alan and I stopped by Cave Creek Ranch to ask Reed about the damage there, and to lend a hand. Floodwaters did enter several cabins; he's in the process of pulling up wet carpet and pads, and mucking out the dense silt that covers the flooded floors. Tony and Rene have very kindly been helping.

The propane tank was floating in the floodwaters, and Reed tied it to a tree with clothesline to prevent its voyage downstream. Another tank from someone's place across the creek probably had a broken valve; the smell of propane was strong.

Woodland Cottage, sans part of its former woodland, with the back porch seriously undermined and about a foot of silt on the front patio. 
(Photos by Narca)

In Woodland Cottage, the most impacted of the ranch's cabins, the floodline on the interior was about 18" high. Water overtopped the bathtub and floated the refrigerator, which fell over on its side, where it was found still running –– even with the electric sockets having been under water!

Silt piled against the front door had to be dug out to allow the door to open.

In a digression, another favorite birder destination is the Casa de San Pedro in Hereford, next to the San Pedro River. Patrick and Karl, the owners, tell me that they were prepared for the San Pedro River to rise 18' –– and it rose 21'. One of their main issues, like Reed's, is mud everywhere; their landscaping also needs major work. They do hope to be back in business soon.

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