Flood of 1998

Photo-essay by Akkana
Click on any image to see a larger version (it's hard to see detail in the small thumbnails here).

Images from Stevens Creek (Cupertino/Saratoga) and Penitencia (Alum Rock) creeks, flooded in the El Nino storms. I went exploring on my commuter mountain bike.

With the heavy rains, most local trails aren't good riding spots right now (unless you want to give land managers an excuse to blame erosion on mountain bikes and ban us from even more trails), but fear not! Formerly paved Stevens Canyon Rd is now underwater and has become a technically challenging yet still ecologically sound MTB alternative.
[Stevens Canyon Road, Flooded] February 15: Stevens Creek is up to road level, washing over the road in spots.
[X] This is the first (paved) creek crossing at the bottom of the Canyon Trail, the trail that extends Stevens Canyon Rd. This crossing is always flooded, but usually it's only a few inches deep. Now, it's a bit above knee-level most of the way through. Some of the asphalt has broken off, and the current is flowing fast, making it a difficult ride. We didn't attempt this, but another group of three bikers tried it while we were there, and none of them made it through without stopping. (Two FS bikes and a hardtail; the hardtail rider made it the farthest. Heh.)
[Collapsed bridge] A number of homeowners live on the other side of Stevens Creek from the road, and use bridges to get home. I hope this resident wasn't at home when this happened, and that the people living there have another way to get out until they manage to repair their bridge!
[Ranger crossing flooded road] February 22: Now the creek is well up above road level, and massive mudslides have brought mud and gravel from the surrounding hills down onto the road. Here, a ranger truck, headed up toward the county park at the end of the (formerly) paved road, negotiates the muddy mess.

On what used to be a paved road, this has become a challenging ride on a mountain bike -- the current is flowing, the gravel under the water is loose and you have to keep spinning to get over it without dabbing. Fun!

[Flooded road] The "Flooded" sign didn't last long, blown down in the heavy winds.
Further down the road, below Mt Eden, the ride is even more challenging: the water level is over a foot high, with unpredictable potholes and piles of gravel underneath. A rider who had turned back warned us that it wasn't passable, but we decided to try anyway. A cyclocross racer came along as we were planning a route, and forged ahead, so when he made it, we followed. We made it without dabbing, though some riders going the other way weren't quite so lucky. Sorry, I didn't get a photo of this section -- too busy figuring out how to get through!
[Stuck 4x4] Over in another part of the south bay, some overly ambitious 4x4 drivers attempt to drive closer to take a look at flooded Penitencia Creek, then get mired. The driver seemed to think that the way to get out was to stomp on the gas and spin the tires as fast as possible. We were trying not to laugh ... really!

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