30 July, 2007
Santa Maria Mountains
Northwest Arizona, USA
The white Toyota Tacoma pickup slowly moved into the water, dipping its front wheels in gradually and proceeding until the rears were also half submerged. It paused on the river’s shelf with the water in the slack side pool lapping gently against the rock rails running from the front to rear wheel wells. The rails would protect the lower body of the Tacoma from rocks, but they could do nothing to protect it from the raging torrent splashing the hood.
The Tacoma paused, then rolled down off the shelf into the river channel. First the front wheels, then the rears. They were fully committed now. No turning back, no way to reverse back up the step, the only way out was the opposite river bank. All they had to do was traverse the boiling, rolling, exploding flood waters that separated them from dry land.
The truck moved forward gingerly, out from the protection of the near river bank. As soon as they entered the flood current, the rear of the truck was immediately lifted and swung downstream. As I watched from the cab of the Fuso, the Tacoma started moving down the flood waters, caught in the roaring current.
Time slowed dramatically. I had plenty of time to consider friction coefficients, buoyancy factors and rates of acceleration. The acceleration rate was relevant because about six meters downstream a line of large semi-submersed boulders crossed the flood swollen river. In the milliseconds that I processed the information it became clear that the downstream side of the Tacoma was going to slam into those boulders. And just as certainly the relentless current that was piling up water higher than the handles on the upstream door would lift that upstream side and flip the truck on its top, trapping the occupants under the muddy, debris filled water.
Inside the Tacoma were two friends and my wife, Stephanie.
For the rest of the story see the PDF document at: http://www.hackneys.com/travel/docs/hitt-wash-crossing.pdf