Tuesday, 20 October 2009

09 trip SE Washington ... dry falls

After a few days of hard work ... a day of play. We headed along the Columbia River to Soap Lake & Moses Lake and discovered one of the wonders of the ice age world. We were told that a 'must see' is the Dry Falls. An unpaved road led down into a basin. Towering above us was the Dry Falls.When we looked up we saw a building on the other side. The building was the observatory overlooking the Dry Falls. Later we drove up to the observatory and the photo below is what we saw from that viewpoint.

These cliffs are skeletal remnants of what was once the world's largest waterfall. They are stark witness to the power of catastrophic floods that swept from Canada and over eastern Washington at the end of the last ice age. The falls eroded 20 miles upstream and spread huge erratic granite rocks along the riverbed. The Dry Falls are one of the geological wonders of the ice age. They were 3 1/2 miles wide and 400 feet high. They dwarfed Niagara Falls.This is a drawing of the falls in the time of the ice ages.Standing below, the rock forms showed the heavy erosion of thousands of years ago. The lake was somewhat alkali and only the toughest of plants grow. The cliffs show the layers of rock formed over millions of years by lava flows. Then, during the ice ages the layers were dug away by the massive flooding.Basalt cliffs had huge pillars of rock.
If you look up, the cliffs hide caves caused by drainage and the powerful action of the falls.From here, we drove to the Grand Coulee Dam, built in the 1960's. Its water supplies power and irrigation for the farmlands up on the plateau. Dinner was less than memorable. It was the first time I had chopped lettuce with breadcrumbs and called a salad.
The Columbia River flattens out.On the way back to Ephrata, the full moon lit our way. We stopped at the observatory on the way back and the moon was reflecting in the lake at the base of the dry falls.

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