This guest post was written by Perry Recker, a longtime Urban EcoSteward and Nine Mile Run member.
I have explored different parts of Nine Mile Run numerous times over the past 5 years, but never in a heavy rain. I have gone to have a look the morning after a nighttime rain and have seen evidence of high water that flattened grasses and left debris (mostly plastic) hanging on branches several feet about the normal water level, but was never able to see it at flood stage. Until the afternoon of August 29th.
We had a good hard rainstorm in the middle of the day that day, and I was home with a little extra time on my hands. So I zipped into my best hooded rain jacket, pulled on my 12 inch Muck boots and headed down the path into the park at the end of our street. We had only been living here for a little over a year, but I was quite familiar with the path. It brings me down to the place where Nine Mile Run and Braddock Trails diverge, and not far from my designated EcoSteward plot.
This time the water in the Run did not disappoint. It was a real raging torrent, and enough to make my pulse quicken a little. I had my phone ready and was able to record a few short videos and take pictures at various points, since I suspected that I would not have this kind of an opportunity again any time soon. It was pretty amazing and exciting to see normally dry gullies delivering a steady stream of water down the hillside on my right and across the path, while in a couple of places some of the water from the run was right up to the edge of the path. I consider myself a moderate risk taker so proceeded carefully and cautiously and followed the path that ran between my plot and the stream bed. I was curious to at least see what things looked like around the junction with Falls Ravine and where the Run makes its bend to the South where the relatively new benches and boardwalk are located.
I felt some minimal fear for my safety, but proceeded cautiously and carefully, while beginning to wonder how our beaver population was doing, hoping that this was not something entirely new and unfamiliar to them and that they had already take their own precautionary measures to stay alive and not let themselves get swept all the way down to the Mon River.
I was especially curious to see what kind of flow was coming out of the mouth of the culvert where it opens up just before the board walk to Firelane Trail. But there was an inch or two of water on the paved path that I did not want to wade through, so I turned around and made my way home via the entrance off Old Monongahela behind the Class building — where I was able to see the water not only rushing out of the culvert-tunnels from Edgewood and Wilkinsburg, but also flowing over the bricks and old streetcar tracks of Old Monongahela before it was cut off by the Parkway East.
The next day I rode my bicycle along the same route and everything was pretty much back to normal — except for what appeared to be a few more trees that had toppled over just below the big bend, along with a few more that our industrious beaver had gnawed off at the base. Hopefully they will have realized by now that building a dam will be next to impossible, but that they are able to survive the days when the Run is in a rage, and live an enjoyable beaver life in the days in between.