A Phoenix couple is sharing their story of survival after getting caught in a monsoon while hiking near Camp Verde.
Tiffany Smith and her boyfriend Tanner Quintanal planned to hike to the hot springs on July 30. They were almost to their destination and were crossing the river when they noticed something wasn’t right.
“It was supposed to be like thigh deep and the second we stepped in it was like almost up to our chins and I kind of lost my footing in the rocks and my feet smacked against all the rocks on the bottom of the river,” Smith said.
“I thought my toe was broken. He had to grab me by the wrist and pull me back out of the river and at that point I’m like, is this even really a good idea?”
Quintanal initially wanted to keep going to their destination, but suddenly the sky grew darker.
“We started following the trail and the sky just turned completely black and lightning was cracking over our heads, it was terrifying,” Smith said.
The two started the race back to their car, which was about 4 miles away. They tried to get to higher ground but lightning proved to be another obstacle.
“Lightning was cracking at least a few yards above us and it was like so loud, it was piercing. We would hear ringing after it,” Quintanal said.
The rain got worse as they got closer to the base and they eventually took shelter in a bathroom.
“I stood under it and was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to keep going like this,’ and the hail was just smacking us,” Smith said.
Before their hike, a park ranger suggested they park their car uphill of the ravine. They’re thankful they did.
“The ground was so soft that if I didn’t park uphill, I would’ve been too terrified to get the car up the ravine and through the switchbacks,” Smith said.
Jesse Rutherford, the team spokesman for Central Arizona Mountain Rescue, said that parking on higher ground can save your car from being swept away from a flash flood like this one.
“It could be a nice flat area at first but it could be raining as far as 15-20 miles away and be clear as day where you are and that doesn’t mean the water isn’t going to come through,” Rutherford explained.
Rutherford also suggests that hikers tell someone where they will be and what time they’re expected to be back.
“If it’s late in the afternoon, you might be stuck out there all night so we definitely recommend telling someone where you’re going to be, when you’re going to be back.”
Smith and Quintanal said they checked the radar before their hike, mapped out where they would be, and packed everything necessary, but Mother Nature had other plans.
“I looked up how to get down there, how to get out of there, I had a map of the trail and everything and the weather. It was a freak thing, it just came out of nowhere,” Smith said.