We woke to bright sunshine and blue skies. There wasn’t a cloud anywhere on the horizon and a light breeze was blowing. What a relief! Shortly after sunup, we could hear the sweet sounds of CalTrans working on the road.
We scouted the area and found the bridge still standing, but the narrow road to the campground looked dangerously undermined in several sections. Some of the mud would have to be cleared before we could get the coach out. Looking across the river, we could see CalTrans clearing the highway and setting cones around the narrow sections. Around noon, another part of roadway fell into the river and was swept away. I didn’t like the idea of driving a 31,000 pound vehicle over what was left.
Around noon, the campground management announced they had ‘stabilized the cliff’ and asked everyone to return to their original campsites. The needle on our bullshit meter went into the red zone and we decided to see for ourselves. You could see the cliff from a remote part of the campground reachable on foot. After a determined hike, we reached it to find the river was washing against the cliff at the worst possible spot. Taking one last look before heading back, Jeanne saw a sizable portion of the cliff break away and fall into the water. In an instant, river washed away every molecule. At that moment we decided to leave asap; if any more of the cliff broke away, it would take the road with it and any hope of us leaving before April 2007. The only thing holding us back was how long it took CalTrans to clear the way. One thing was certain, we were not returning to our former campsite nor were we going anywhere near the edge of the cliff.
Returning to the coach, we prepared to leave. All we had to do was air-up, pull the slides and get rolling.
That afternoon, a really scary-looking guy appeared on a motorcycle covered with mud. When the rider removed his helmet we were relived to see it was Andy. He told us the road was not passable yet, but would probably be ready in the morning. Farther up the canyon, the road was impassable and repairs would be a major effort, taking months to complete. Also, all the major highways through the area were closed except Highway 101 heading south to Los Angeles. We thanked him for his efforts and asked him to be careful on the way back.
By this time, the Jeep was a muddy mess, inside and out. The mud had been applied in layers and was beginning to dry into a crackled pattern where the sun dried it out. Without a doubt, it was the dirtiest vehicle I had ever driven. We now appreciate the qualities of Jeeps and their 4-Wheel Drive capabilities. The Jeep never let us down.
We spent the night restlessly listening to the boulders rolling down the river and hoping the cliff would hold out for one more day.