June 20, 2014
“Scattered thunderstorms” was the forecast for today. We had shrugged and fully expected to see little if any rain as usual in Langtry, Texas. Landowner Jack Skiles visited our digs yesterday and asked, “Have you considered moving any of the heavy stuff [equipment] out of the canyon while the road is open, they say it might rain?” We nodded and went back to work busily trying to finish our excavations and get our final SfM photo documentation completed to make ready for the geoarchaeological sampling that was to happen today and tomorrow. Jack had just got the road serviceable again last week — it had been washed out last month after a 1.5″ rain — but sunny windy weather had dried it out quickly. “Scattered thunderstorms,” no problem.
The rain began around 4 am at the Skiles’ house overlooking Eagle Nest Canyon, and in less than eight hours 11.6″ of rain fell. The Canyon ran deep as the following sequence of photographs attest.
9 am, view up Canyon toward Eagle Cave.
9am, Steve Black looks across to Kelley Cave and Skiles Shelter and ponders Plan B.
10am, view up Canyon, Eagle Cave on the left.
10am, Wilmuth and Jack Skiles with Eagle Cave in the background.
10 am, view upstream from above Eagle Cave
10 am, lower Canyon with Kelley Cave on the left. The Eagle Nest Canyon flow is so strong that it is pushing water up the Rio Grande (to the right in background).
ENC Pour-Off 11:30 am. Around this time is when the flood peaked.
Eagle Nest Canyon Flooding in 2010 (left) versus 2014 (right).
This flood was not the first massive flood event ASWT has experienced at Eagle Nest. In 2010, after receiving 12″ of rain over a 4 day period, the canyon went on what we thought was a massive flood (photo on left). Little did we know that by 11:30 am the flow of water over the pour-off into Eagle Nest Canyon would dwarf anything we had ever seen.
Noon, view downstream from Eagle Cave
Noon, Kelley Cave and Skiles Shelter with the Rio Grande in the background.
Noon, view down Canyon, Eagle Cave on right with waterfalls.
Noon, view upstream from above Eagle Cave.
By 12:30 the flooding had started to subside. The water level did not get up into the shelter, but the lower couple dozen feet of our trail was washed away down to bedrock.
12:15 pm, mouth of the Canyon, Skiles Shelter on the left.
12:30 pm, Kelley Cave and Skiles Shelter with the Rio Grande in the background.
2:30 pm, view of the mouth of the Canyon. The flow is now starting to flow back into the Canyon from the Rio Grande.
6 pm, mouth of the Canyon. The water is slack and backed up from the Rio Grande.
6 pm, view upstream to Eagle Cave.
Tomorrow we will venture into Eagle Cave using the upper “Goat Trail” and continue working with Charles Frederick and Ken Lawrence while they do geoarchaeological sampling of the deposits in Eagle. This flood event has reminded us of the power of water in the desert, and how all of the sites within Eagle Nest have been (and are being) impacted by flooding.