April 18, 2009

Box Elder Creek

Add torrential rain to four feet of melting snow, and you can pretty much figure out what's going to happen to Box Elder Creek.

The creek winds its way peacefully through the section of the ranch where Malcolm and I lived, the place where Rachelle still lives. At the crossings its pretty much ankle deep. Rachelle, Justine and I went "swimming" in it last summer. You had to lay down on your belly to be "submerged" and even then our backs were exposed to the air a good part of the time. Even after normal amounts of rain, we drive the four-wheelers and tractors across it at will.

Box Elder has a violent history though. Last May when we had that late snowstorm and it melted off in a day and half, the water level came up fast, just past the fence line in the picture below. Even though the water had receded in this picture, it's still pretty swollen compared to its normal state.
And in years past, before Malcolm's family owned this land, the creek came up so high that if flooded the barns and houses. That's high when you consider that it is at least 400 yards away from the buildings. This is the old ranch house. It sits in Rachelle's back yard. There are water stains on the old wallpaper that are nearly shoulder high. And during one flood, the water was half way up the living room windows in Rachelle's house. So the risk is known. But its only happened a couple times in the last half century.

Rachelle sent these pictures to us last night. This is the Box Elder as of yesterday. Its lapping the edge of the road, less than 150 yards from her house and the other buildings. They uploaded really small, so I've enlarged them, which made them a bit fuzzy. But you can still get the effect. In this picture, the green garage and Rachelle's house can be seen just beyond the rising creek. Under the creek is a hayfield, fence, and several large brush piles, all of which are no where to be seen.

And should you have stood in our front yard when we lived at the ranch, you would have seen this. The dirt road, a pretty hay field, a bluff on the other side of the creek, and the hills beyond. Notice you can't see the creek. You could have heard it, but not seen it looking this direction.

In the next picture, its hard to see, but the house we lived in is that white blob at the base of the hill, and the field you see in the picture above, is under water. In the ranch's history, our house has never flooded. I guess that's the planned retreat for Rachelle and the Darling Poodles, should the need arise!

And in this picture it doesn't look too dramatic, but let me fill in the details for you. This is another creek crossing. You have to drive down a pretty steep hill to get to the creek. At this creek crossing, the precious owners had installed a trolley on a cable so they could cross the creek when it flooded in order to feed cattle, etc. When crossing the creek on the trolley, your normally suspended several feet above the water. If you were to cross now, you'd be in the water. I'm not good at estimating measurement, but I feel safe in saying that its at least 9-10 feet deep, easily more. I know for sure its well over my head, and normally its little more than knee deep.
Don't know what's to come in the days ahead. They're still calving, still knee deep in mud, still have snow left to melt off...there are a lot of "stills." This is just one more head ache to add to the others. I'm desperately hoping that the water stops where its at, and comes no further. At least then the worst damage will be some fences needing repaired, and maybe the creek crossings needing cleaned up and leveled again. That sounds a lot less tiring than cleaning up a flooded house. I've done that, on a small scale. But even on a small scale, it is not a fun job, and it's kind of traumatic for the resident. I was the resident...I should know!

1 comment:

Meagan said...

Yikes! I hope it stops rising!!! Mother Nature sure is odd sometimes!