Capitol Reef National Park Hikers Speak Out About ‘Insanely Lucky’ Experience Amid Dangerous Flooding

by TK Sanders

A group of hikers on a church campout described their own escape from flooding in Capitol Reef National Park as “insanely lucky.”

Noah Gremmert, Orrin Allen, and Cooper Allen were visiting the Utah park when it started to rain heavily in the distance, Fox News reports. They were just five minutes from the top of the mountain on a hike when they noticed that the rain had already taken out a road on the other side of the mountain.

“We’re wandering down, we’re having a blast, we’re watching water gush off the sides of the canyon and it’s looking really cool. I’m following one of the waterfalls down with my eyes, and I was like ‘Oh shoot, the road’s gone,'” Orrin said.

The group anticipated a light rain in the forecast, but nothing like what actually occurred. By the end of the storm, three of the church group’s five trucks were totaled. One of them was deemed a total loss because the damage was so severe.

More importantly, though, the trail flooded out below them, making it nearly impossible to flee the mountain. In total, about 50 to 60 individuals found themselves temporarily trapped on the mountain face that day at Capitol Reef National Park.

Instead of waiting out the storm at a slightly higher elevation, the group decided to traverse down and make their escape.

“Everybody all worked together to get everyone safely down the mountain,” Gremmert said of the experience.

One Capitol Reef National Park ranger said it was the worst flooding she’d seen in 15 years

“There was two, five to six foot drops we had to get down,” Orrin added.

The group leaders assisted everyone safely down the mountain, but the hike down was treacherous.

“We had about 4 1/2 feet of room to work with between the rock wall and the drop off to the river, which was about six to eight feet into the gushing river,” Orrin said.

A 15-year veteran park ranger would later tell the men that it was the worst flooding she’d ever seen during her tenure at the park.

“The Scenic Drive, Grand Wash, [and] Capitol Gorge all experienced flash floods yesterday,” Capitol Reef National Park said in a tweet. “These roads remain closed. Search [and] Rescue teams were able to rescue all visitors from these areas by 10 p.m. last night.”

According to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, some park rangers became stranded while helping others. Eventually, they made it to high ground. Also, not a single major medical incident arose from the dangerous monsoon. “We got lucky, insanely lucky,” the three young men all agreed.

The park said that about seven or eight vehicles washed away or incurred significant damage during the flash flooding.