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Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Welcome to Grand Coulee seen from the downstream observation point.

The Rotunda at the downstream observation point gives the best view of Grand Coulee Dam.

Explanation of the next few images of Grand Coulee Dam.

I was the only visitor at the downstream observation point when the engineers opened the spillway gates, letting water from Lake Roosevelt flow down the face of the dam.

The following images are progressive...the final gate being opened, I caught the falling water at various levels of descent.

Each image has been slightly modified; a couple turning out quite good.

Please feel free to capture the image of your choice for your own pleasure. The film speed is 800. The size is 5 mb, so the image can be enlarged without loss of quality.

Commercial use of SAM & ME images must be approved by the author.

Interesting geological topography when considering the Columbia River.

The High Desert near Grand Coulee Dam - after climbing out of the canyon - is relatively flat and quite devoid of visible rocks. As I walk South, however, the land is littered with rock formations in every direction, with the floor littered with random rocks, such as the monolith imaged above.

It is my observation that during the last ice age 10,000 years ago, the ice covered the land to the near present Grand Coulee Dam; further South, however appears to have been relatively free of significant ice.

Below - South - of Grand Coulee Dam is littered with vast - and small - "coulees"; deep rock-lined holes in the ground stripped of most soil. The Grand Coulee Project utilizes the large Coulee now known as Banks Lake as a holding pond for the vast irrigation system which has turned the Columbia Basin from desert to one of America's most productive "gardens".

The Coulees lost their soil when, about 10,000 years ago, Lake Missoula burst through the Ice Dam near present Glacier National Park, sending a massive wall of water across the Columbia Basin, stripping away most of the soil and changing the course of the Columbia River.

Was planning on an early start walking this morning. Awoke to a deluge of rain. Instead, spent a few hours completing yesterday's blog update. By 8:30 am, the rain stopped. Drove SPIA to the downstream observation point for the above photographs...then parked SPIA on Highway 174.

Walked for the next 6.5 hours toward Chief Joseph Dam - further down the Columbia River - and returned to SPIA. The images posted here were taken during that walk...the only walk of the day.

Please say HELLO to Martin "Marty".

Marty, a resident of the town of Grand Coulee, is an avid rider, hiker, and mountaineer...often taking treks as far away as Alaska. Marty, at 62, is just a youngster, but is my kinda guy.

Marty and I met on this hill, about 10 miles West of Grand Coulee.

Finally getting the hang of proper "elevation" photographs.

Looking West from Highway 174, the Cascade Mountains...still covered in snow, await our arrival.

Yes, I will be crossing those mountains within the next few days.

Bellingham, Washington lies about 200 miles away, on the far side of the Cascades...normally one week walk...the Cascades might need another day or two to cross.

Such rock formations abound along Highway 174.

Even I like this picture.

Today was another day of psychological cloud formations.

This female Red Wing Blackbird hassled me as I walked past a small pond. At first I thought she was being friendly...until five of her relatives joined her, all circling and yelling at me.

Perhaps they had nests close by.

This gorgeous wee guy was perched not 10 feet from me. I chatted to it while taking a number of photographs. It never did fly away.


Returning to SPIA, I drove to the Junction of Highway 174 and Highway 17...the Junction being 21 miles from Grand Coulee. I started up the mini computer to check VERIZON signal. Being no signal, I opted to drive on to Chief Joseph Dam, another 25 miles distant, where there should be ample VERIZON signal (there is).

SPIA has found a protected spot in the yard of the local 76 Gas Station, just a stone throw below Chief Joseph Dam. We will spend the night here. In the morning, I will walk BACK toward the Junction for 13 miles, recovering the driven miles.

Will then cross the bridge over the Columbia River and walk West on Highway 17 towards the towns of Brewster and Pateros, Washington. My Mother's family (Tuttle) once owned apple orchards in both towns. Perhaps I can look them up.

Leaving Pateros on Highway 153, we will begin to climb into the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. We will cross the mountains on the relatively new North Cascade Pass, which should be open to traffic by now. It remains closed all winter, with normal opening about May 15.

Perhaps I should check with Washington DOT just to be sure.

1 comment:

Ron from Soso said...

Great pics and commentary. Wish I could see that place, but I'll have to settle for enjoying it through your camera lens. Thank you, Bruce.