The great Big Bend flood of 2008

Trip Start Aug 18, 2008
Trip End Oct 01, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Texas
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

So, as we mentioned in the last entry, Big Bend has been experiencing the worst flooding in memory, with water over 20 feet higher than normal. Of course, with flows like this, we had to get on the water to see it for ourselves. So we signed up for a rafting trip to get an up close experience of the water.

Our trip ended up being through Santa Elena canyon, a beautiful section of the river with canyon walls 1500 feet high and (normally) a few exciting rapids. But with such massive water flows, we didn't see a single rapid. The largest rapid is usually a section called 'Rock Slide', which is a rocky section that the river guide has to maneuver the raft through. We didn't see a single rock! Instead, we had to make our way through giant waves that swamped the boat, and got so tall that they broke like waves on the ocean. It was bizarre to see water the color of chocolate milk cresting like that.

Throughout the trip, we also got to see the extent of the devastation. At the put in, a local resort town called Lajitas was so inundated with water that we floated over the 18th green of the golf course, and on the other side of the river we saw Mexican villages that had been partially wiped out. For most of the trip, we were floating over trees which normally line the bank of a narrow river--instead, it was almost a mile wide in parts. It all felt very eerie and bizarre--it rained for most of our trip, and even though we finished the day feeling wet and cold, we both felt it was worth it to have seen what a massive impact water can have. Really makes you understand why you need to respect the river...
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