“Covered in mud from head to toe”: hiker and dog swept down canyon in flash flood

A flash flood in the desert
The woman was found barefoot but uninjured after being swept 200 feet downstream (Image credit: Tonya Hance)

A hiker and her dog have been rescued from a Utah canyon after a flash flood swept the pair downstream.

The 38-year-old woman was hiking in Mary Jane Canyon, a slot canyon near Moab, on Thursday when she heard the flood coming. According to a Facebook post by Grand County Sheriff's Search and Rescue team, the hiker tried to get to higher ground but ended up being carried 150 - 200 feet downstream.

"She reached a sand bank above the creek with her dog, but the rising water eroded the sand, sending both her and the dog into the flood waters."

The unidentified woman managed to send an SOS alert on her iPhone, a function that sends your location to emergency services but provides no other details. The Grand County Sheriff’s office received the alert at 7:22 p.m. but the woman told rescuers she received a failed message alert and believed it hadn’t gone through, prompting her to try to self-rescue.

A flooded slot canyon

Often found in the Southwest, slot canyons are generally deeper than they are wide, and you cannot easily exit them any other way than travelling to the end (Image credit: Cavan Images)

Meanwhile, rescuers approached the canyon by helicopter and soon spotted the dog. They were able to land in the canyon and communicate the woman’s location to foot crew, who reached the unfortunate duo at 9:25 p.m. about 1.5 miles from the trailhead and two miles from the location transmitted by the SOS.

The floodwaters had knocked the woman’s hiking shoes off and though she was barefoot and “covered in mud from head to toe" when they reached her, she was otherwise uninjured and able to return to the trailhead wearing a pair of shoes loaned to her by a rescuer.

Mary Jane Canyon is a slot canyon located about 20 miles northeast of Moab, popular for canyoneering. Often found in the Southwest, slot canyons are generally deeper than they are wide, and you cannot easily exit them any other way than travelling to the end. Professor Creek flows through the canyon year-round, but is typically a shallow stream except for a one-mile section that is up to 100 feet deep.

Safety officials remind all hikers to research their route and check the local weather conditions using a reliable weather app before setting off in a canyon. Always tell someone where you are going, and do not enter a slot canyon if there is any rain forecast.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.