So, Moab today….
Woke up with the idea of checking the weather before any activities as it was supposed to rain today. Forecast called for 0.15” of rain, so I figure that’s nothing, we can do anything we wanted to. We decided to hike “Professor and Marry Jane”, trail we did last year. It’s a primitive trail that follows a creek through a slot canyon and you have to cross the creek like 70+ times before you reach the end. Winter makes it tricky with ice on the edges and on the rocks. Last year, it was pretty challenging and we did it probably on the same day as today. AllTrails rates this trail as easy - maybe in summer, maybe with no ice.
It was raining when we arrived at the trailhead, but not much, more of a mist. We struggled with the creek crossings from the start, as there was so much ice all over - but it was not thick enough to use. It wasn’t thick enough to jump from, it was not thick enough to land on. We soldiered on - making makeshift crossings with rocks - spent 3 hours for 3.4 miles, and made it 95% of the way. We were so close to the waterfall at the end, and then we finally made it to a point where we couldn’t cross the creek, so we turned around and headed back.
Rain started picking up. All these cute misty waterfalls coming from top of the canyon turned into real waterfalls. All these tiny little tributaries turned into real creeks. All the dry creek beds suddenly had a lot of water. We were basically in a flash flood! We started booking it back, but every crossing was twice as hard - the rocks we used to cross earlier weren’t even visible! We managed to cross about 20 times, built a massive rock pile to hop over the creek, and finally got to the point of just having to cross it on foot. By this point, the creek depth went from “I can maybe cross it with mid height shoes” to “water is at my shins, touching my knees and is threatening to carry my away as it’s so fast”. We both had mid height waterproof shoes, but we were stepping mid calf to knee depth and got soaked. We kept crossing, water kept growing and getting colder. My pants got soaked from the rain, below knee they were soaked already, my backpack contents got soaked, my rain jacket was a godsend though.
It got colder, rain turned into snow, and even decent crossing with big rocks ended up being too slippery, so we kept crossing through the water. We had 3.5 miles to walk back, at least half of that if not more was with wet feet.
Finally made it to the car, some 5 hours after we started. Soaked, muddy, tired, knees on fire from all the rock jumping..
What a day! What did I learn?
Get a rain jacket to store in my backpack, no doubt there. Buy a backpack rain cover. Buy water resistant hiking pants, or have something to wear over - my Kuhl pants performed admirably, but we’re no match to this much rain. Have change of clothes in the car. DO NOT trust the forecast, especially when heading 15-20 miles away from the city. Microclimates are real and flash floods are not a joke.