August 1, 2009
As I mentioned we were able to sleep fairly well last night with the nighttime temp dropping into the mid 60’s. We decided to head out early to do some sightseeing before the temps were back into the 100’s.
Our first stop was the Dry Falls Visitor Center. As the name suggests Dry Falls no longer carries water but is the remnant of what once was the largest waterfall known to have existed on earth. Looking at the 3.5 miles of sheer cliffs that drop 400 feet it’s easy to imagine the roar of water pouring over them. The falls that existed here over 15,000 years ago dwarf Niagara Falls, which by comparison is one mile wide with a drop of 165 feet.
The falls were created following the catastrophic collapse
of and enormous ice dam holding back the waters of what has been named “Glacier Lake Missoula.” Water covering three thousand square miles of northwest Montana, about the volume of Lake Ontario, was locked
behind the glacial dam until the rising lake penetrated, lifted and then blew out the ice dam. The massive torrent ran wild through Idaho, the Spokane River valley, much of eastern Washington and into Oregon, flooding the area that is now the city of Portland under 400 feet of water.
Reaching the Dry Falls area, the tremendous force swept away earth and rock from a precipice 15 miles south of the falls near Soap Lake causing the falls to retreat to its present position now known as Dry Falls. The falls are said to be a spectacular example of “headward erosion.”
It was amazing to stand there and look at what once was a spectacular part of our country’s geologic development. We could only imagine the forces that were at work creating this unique but beautiful landscape. The topography in this area is mostly lava rock and tubular basalt f rom all the volcanic activity, the same type of formation found at Devils Tower. The lava flows were intermittent and continued to accumulate in some places up to 10,000 feet. The entire trip has been educational and inspiring.
While at Dry Falls I had to make a trip to the Ladies Room. Jewel is never happy when I venture off alone and she dragged Ron in search of me. She tracked me down to the Restroom and was sniffing at the door waiting for me to come out.
Don’t let the title fool you there was no lake just a very steep
up and over very difficult terrain – mostly lava fields. It was getting hot but we had to try to see the caves that were once occupied by aborigines. The caves
were very shallow and didn’t provide much shelter from the elements. About one hour into our hike in 97 degree weather and the sun that was getting hotter by the moment we decided to head down. About 1000 feet from the parking lot Jewel decided she wasn’t going
with us and dug in her heels and stopped. I was sweating profusely and in no mood for her antics. No amount of coaxing was getting her to move so once again Ron headed up the trail and brought her down. I’m not sure what has gotten into her but she no longer wants to ride either in the MH or Jeep.
Along the route back to the CG we stopped along the roadside, had lunch and dipped our tire hot feet into Banks Lake. The water was really cool and it felt great. The temp gauge in the Jeep registered 105 degrees and it sure felt hotter then that. At that point we decided that we would get into our bathing suits and find a good spot to swim.
Back at the MH we decided it was time to bite the bullet and turn the generator on so we could use the AC. At the site the temp was 112 degrees. It took some time to cool down the MH but it felt good to get cooled off.
The trek to the beach was a challenge down a rocky cliff but I made it without injury. We spent some time in the water feeling very refreshed. The sun was brutal and there was no shade so after one hour we packed it in and headed back to the MH. There was a brisk breeze that had picked up so it felt a little cooler. Back at the MH the wind was really blowing making it tolerable.
Around 7 PM we went out to diner then headed into Grand Coulee to walk over the Coulee Dam bridge and read all the historical signs posted along the bridge . The temp had dropped to 92 degrees and without the sun the round trip walk on the bridge was comfortable. We decided to take in the Laser Light Show again from a different viewpoint and enjoyed the show even more the second time.