Road to Hell
We were due in Pinnacles National Park on this day for a month long stay as volunteer photographers. We woke up around 8 a.m. in the Laguna Mountain BLM where we had spent the previous two days. It had been raining continuously and puddles were forming around our vehicle.
We anticipated a short drive through the hills as we were only 30 miles from Pinnacles National Park. The cold and rain had me feeling a bit lazy so I didn't change into clean clothes, I just kept my fleece pants (pajamas) on. This would later prove to be a good choice.
Not too long after we got underway, we encountered a flooded creek flowing across our road. It didn't appear to be passable which was amping up our anxieties. We were low on food and fresh water, our cell phone couldn't get a signal and we really wanted to arrive in pinnacles on time. Waiting for the water to subside could take a day or two so that was not a desirable option. I grabbed one of Edwige's hiking poles, rolled up my pajamas, got out of the van and proceeded to the edge of the rushing water. I waded in measuring the depth as I went but about a quarter of the way in I determined it was just too deep for our van to pass.
As I walked back to the van, a high clearance 4x4 vehicle approached behind us, hesitated, drove around our van and through the rushing water. They stopped on the other side and motioned for us to follow. This did not make Edwige happy at all. Quickly accessing the risks, I decided to cross which made Edwige really, really unhappy! Midway through, water came up over our hood and into our air intake... we stalled smack dab in the middle of the stream. "No, no, no, not good!" I slowly opened my door and water was up to our floorboard. The guys in the 4x4 looked concerned... we were concerned.
The guys in the 4x4 spun their vehicle around and motioned for me to come get the cable from their winch that was mounted to the front of their vehicle (in all honesty, seeing the winch on their vehicle as they drove by, factored into my decision to cross). I dragged the cable out to our partially submerged van but couldn't determine where to hook the cable. I crouched and blindly felt around under our van feeling for something solid to hook onto. With the rushing water reaching up to my shoulders, I eventually found what I thought was part of the vehicle's frame. Then slowly but safely they pulled us out onto dry land.
The next critical issue would be getting our van started. Thankfully the 4x4 guys were kind enough to stick around and help us out with that as well. It took only about ten minutes to get the van started and apparently there was no water damage to the engine. What could have been a disastrous situation just turned out to be a nerve wracking, anxiety ridden moment. Oh, and my fleece pants performed flawlessly! They dried quickly and I was comfortable for the rest of the drive to Pinnacles :)