Sunday, December 15, 2013

Floods of Stone and Ice

Friend Jena and I made a timely escape from the gloomy weather on the west side of the passes, over east, to the Columbia basin, to an area geologists call "The Channeled Scablands." It's a fabulous landscape, created by ancient floods released from continental glaciers in Pleistocene times. But that's not the whole story -- long before the glaciers began to melt, even long before the glaciers, in Miocene times. great lava flows flooded the area over a period of thousands of years, thousands of feet deep.  When the glacial floods came blasting through, hundreds of feet deep, armed with boulders and grit traveling at highway speed, the lava was scoured and sculpted into a regional-scale picture of drainage patterns.

Our hike covered five miles of trail in the Ancient and Dusty Lakes area, near Quincy, Washington, rambling through two embayments of scoured lava cliffs, over a frosty sagebrush steppe ecosystem, under bright skies in blustering northerlies, that kept us moving briskly, but not too fast to enjoy our glorious surroundings.

Frozen sagebrush

Frozen lava

Jena views the Columbia

Priscilla views lava cliffs

A closeup view of carved lava

Going east for a day-long dose of sunlight is the best way to make up for the short, dark days before winter solstice.  Today, sunrise was at 7:51 am.  Sunset will be at 4:18.  'Scuse me while I take my Vitamin D.

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