Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lake Bonneville Flood Video - NEW

Link to presentation featuring Lake Bonneville and the Bonneville Flood at bottom of this post.

Shoshone Falls

Flood-Tumbled Boulders along Snake River (Halverson Bar area)

Video includes description and maps of Lake Bonneville

Click blue link to open: Ice Age Floods YouTube Channel .

NOT image above

Once you open video on YouTube channel page ...If you have a fairly quick internet connnection ... You might try clicking the 1080p HD option and then click the box with four arrows to play presentation fullscreen. Thanks for watching! The flood features in southern Idaho are amazing.

Ice Age Floods channel on YouTube includes other flood video links.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Suicide Point - Hells Canyon, ID

Photos from (16 May) hike to view Ice Age Floods features along the Snake River in Hells Canyon. Friday evening, I camped near Lewiston and spent a little time viewing (from road) exposures of Bonneville Flood deposits that are capped by Missoula deposits south of town.
On Saturday, I explored south of Clarkston, WA (Photos from that area later). After looking at basalt and wildlife near Joseph Creek, I headed back to Clarkston then south on US-95 to White Bird, Id.

From White Bird I followed signs to Pittsburg Landing and drove down to bottom of canyon. Plenty of elevation change on the way as you need to cross Salmon River drainage before descending into canyon.

View upstream from Suicide Point in Hells Canyon. Huge gravel bars (terraces) created during Bonneville Flood. -Click any image to expand.

Tammany Bar south of Lewiston, Id.

Another shot of Tammany Bar (Large house for scale)

Amazing to be viewing backflooded Missoula deposits so far from Wallula Gap. Even more amazing to find Missoula deposits at Snake River mile 215!!! Yep ... Missoula material is found at Pittsburg Landing. The Idaho Geological Survey map explains that the deposits found at Pittsburg Landing may be the farthest upstream recorded Missoula deposits. Lake Lewis was HUGE!

I was down here to look at flood evidence from from the Bonneville Flood but once again found myself also looking at incredible features created when the massive glacial lake in Montana drained.

"Glacial Lake Missoula"

Painting by Byron Pickering. View Byron's "Ice Age Flood" video story.

Canyon rim above Pittsburg Landing. Hells Canyon is recognized as North America's deepest river gorge.

Allow plenty of time to travel between White Bird and the Pittsburg Landing. Speed limit 25 mph, grade up to 16% in some places. My map had warning on road - "Steep, winding road. Good transmission and brakes vital".
I found road to be in very good shape.

Open Hells Canyon National Recreation Area page for hiking and camping information.

Giant Current Ripples are found on Upper Pittsburg - Red box locates ripples shown in next image. Looking south - upstream. Idaho/Oregon border.

Giant Current Ripples

Click arrow to play short video from trip. About 25 seconds into video, you'll see deer (for scale) grazing on Pittsburg ripples.

View Larger Map

Pittsburg Landing giant current ripples - center of image. Use mouse to navigate Google imagery.

Another view of ripples from north.

View of Pittsburg megaripples from the other side of river. Photo by Keegan Schmidt (Assistant Professor Geology - Lewis-Clark State College).

-Click image to expand-

Open Keegan's - Virtual Tour of Hells Canyon to view several other interesting features near Pittsburg Landing.

Boats at Pittsburg Landing launch. Note huge Bonneville flood bar.

Area Missoula and Bonneville deposits are shown on Idaho Geological Survey map: Grave Point Quadrangle. Large file ... Pittsburg Landing shown on map at lower left.

Long history of man at Pittsburg Landing. Pictographs and petroglyphs are found at many locations throughout the canyon.

Mazama Ash

Another look at Pittsburg Bar.

USFS text: "The Snake River National Recreation Trail # 102 follows the.Wild and Scenic Snake River of Hells Canyon for nearly 27 miles. The trail crosses large river bars, climbs over steep rocky outcrops above the river, and is close to the shoreline at times. The river is within your view while hiking the majority of the time. Visit the Kirkwood Historic Ranch and Museum located approximately 6 miles up river from the trailhead. Experience the old homesteads in the canyon. View prehistoric pictographs left by ancient cultures along the trail. Hells Canyon is also one of Idaho's premier places for viewing wildlife and wonderful early spring wildflowers."

I crossed paths with these guys about halfway between Pittsburg Landing and Kirkwood. They're featured in Youtube video above.

In many places, the trail is cut into rock. River along trail is beautiful.

Snake River Trail #102 is in excellent condition. ... but ... Poison ivy is thick in some areas and ... if you hate snakes ... maybe hike earlier in the spring.

Arrow marks historic Kirkwood Ranch located near the mouth of Kirkwood Creek. I visited the ranch several years ago (by boat) and enjoyed looking at the collection of old farming equipment.

Kirkwood Ranch is a popular lunch stop for tour boats. The small museum/visitor center is interesting (some great photos of early canyon residents). It was nice to hit ranch while iris garden was at peak bloom

Looking back at Suicide Point

Trail near Suicide Point

I wasn't here to "End it all" ... I was here for the great view of Big Bar (Bonneville Flood). I'm not aware of anyone jumping off the point. Reading trail history, it sounds like some early trail users were nervous when riding horseback around the point - before trail was widened.

Hominy Bar

Looking back from south end of Big Bar. Note small airstrip on lower bar.

Big Bar airstrip gets some traffic. Plane in video was the only one I saw all day. Pilot landed and took off about 15 minutes later.

If you're interested in aviation, you might like Youtube video posted by lameusernameguy embedded at bottom of this page. Cool approach into Salmon Bar with rock walls out all windows.

This sickle bar mower is one of many farm implements left on Big Bar. At one time, 13 acres of alfalfa were grown on top of the bar and a large sheep operation was established on the lower bar.

View into one of the bars along trail.

This is where I turned around south of Big Bar

USFS Geology of Hells Canyon Page describes huge terraces in this part of the canyon:
The spillover of water from Lake Bonneville at American Falls, Idaho, 15,000 years ago, had an enormous effect on the canyon as we see it today. The volume of water during this event was at least 1,000 times greater than during present spring run-off levels. This tremendous.flow did not deepen the canyon, but it did increase the width of the canyon and formed the large terraces seen near the mouth of Temperance Creek, at Johnson Bar, and at Pittsburg Landing.

These terraces formed on the upstream side of temporary natural dams. Water velocity decreased behind the dams, allowing sediment to fall to the lake floor. Continued down-cutting by the river formed a channel through the sediment, leaving behind the flat terraces.

View Larger Map

Google Earth view of canyon (above my turnaround point) looking south. Drag image around and travel upstream to Hells Canyon Dam. Gravel face on bar at bottom of Google Earth image is the same feature visible in distance in photo of me at turnaround point.

Click above to play video by one of the Hells Canyon tour operators.

While looking at early photos in the Kirkwood Ranch museum, I noticed the old Suicide Point sign on display.

View shows Snake River pinched between canyon walls below Pittsburg Landing.

Megaflood Preparedness near White Bird

Click above to play video by lameusernameguy.

Hell’s Canyon Adventure Run

Annual trail run is held in the spring between Hells Canyon Dam and Pittsburg Landing. I sure liked the hike Sunday and hope I can make the long run with the group next year to see the rest of the trail. A boat ride up and a 31 mile run/hike back sounds like a great (and very long) day. GPS told me Sunday hike was just over 21 miles.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Drumheller Channels & The Great Blade

April visit to Drumheller Channels and Lower Grand Coulee.

Balsamroot and lupine near Lake Lenore seemed to be at peak bloom.

I wasn't able to drive straight through from Pasco to the lower Grand Coulee. A side trip through Drumheller Channels led me to an unscheduled hike.

Drumheller Channels

"It is a marvelous region of scabland buttes and knobs, canyoned channels, rock basins interrelated in a complex unparalleled elsewhere, even in the scablands." - J Harlen Bretz 1928

Lower Grand Coulee - Looking north

Google Earth vantage point is just north of Soap Lake, WA.
1. Great Blade, 2. Alkali Lake, 3. Blue Lake, 4. Park Lake.
Note huge flood channel east of the Great Blade.

One of many caves found near Lake Lenore. Interpretive display at Dry Falls shows Native Americans utilizing caves for shelter. I've been told that the caves were used like a garage (for storage) rather than shelter. Signage along highway will direct you to an interesting cluster of caves that were formed during Ice Age Flood events.

BONUS: Embedded video at bottom of page was shot in another of the Lake Lenore caves. You'll need to turn on speakers. Thanks for posting video Glen!


I like to park near mile-marker 83 and hike through cut into the east channel. Some incredible evidence of high-energy flooding can be found in this area. Great Blade - top right.

View Larger Map

Check out those potholes! Use your mouse to move around and explore the area.

I usually park between the 17's - Small pull-off (east) just big enough for a couple cars. The guy in your rearview mirror isn't expecting you to be pulling over here. Be careful! The longer gravel parking strip at top left is also available.

Once you get parked, the hike up through terraces to east channel is easy. You'll pass through a fence opening with a WDFW "No Vehicles" sign.

Strange place to find this thing? Angular erratics resting in flood channels isn't something you often find. Several large ice-rafted erratics are located along the east margin of this channel, but this piece of argillite is the largest erratic I'm aware of out near the center of the channel where the bedrock had a hard time sticking around. Great Blade in distance. The boulder does sit on the crown of a basalt formation and must have been carried here on one of the last floods to reach this level.

Several other erratics surround the piece of argillite pictured above. Rounded erratics like this are more typical of what you can expect to find in flood channels containing dramatic errosional features. This type of erratic would have started its journey in an iceberg before dropping into the floodwaters or grounding at some point only to be tumbled in the next Ice Age Flood. Angular corners on bedload carried erratics would have quickly been rounded by impacts with bedrock and other boulders carried in the floodwaters.

Orange star marks argillite erratic in previous photo. Yellow stars identify surrounding granodiorite erratics.

Angular erratics are sometimes found (in high-energy flood channels) wedged in or behind some sort of structure that provides shelter. Earlier in the day I found these angular erratics wedged into a notch in the basalt while hiking near Lower Hampton Lake.

They should be safe here for another flood or two but once the downstream lip of basalt is removed, they'll be introduced to the bedload and headed for lower Crab Creek.

Two examples of typical erratics found in the Drumheller Channels.

Click arrow to play a short video I shot later in the day from the top of the Great Blade. You'll get a better look at the east channel from up here.

THERE IS NO TRAIL to follow if you want to visit the top of the Great Blade. Bretz's 1932 "Grand Coulee" publication led me to believe that I'd find a find a way to the top.

"The highest place on this cliffed ridge is literally a blade of rock, unscalable except at the south end." - J Harlen Bretz

It took a little time to reach the southern terrace (some people will not like the route). Once I got up there, all I needed was a little help from "The Watchdog" to stand on top.

Another pothole in the east channel.

The first bitterroot blooms (my favorite wildflower) I've seen this year.

One wall of this pothole has been opened up. Pretty quiet around here today.

Years ago they made some noise in this part of the coulee. Check out the B&W footage in Youtube video below!

"I know! Let's dump it in Lake Lenore!"

Turn speakers on and click arrow if you haven't seen this before (AMAZING).

South end of The Great Blade.

Nice fang!

I assume this was once part of a bobcat?

SR 17 (AKA ... "Coulee Corridor") crosses floor of the Lower Grand Coulee between Lake Lenore and Alkali Lake.

Coulee Corridor Home

Coulee Corridor Ice Age Floods Page

View Larger Map

Use your mouse to navigate Google map of area shown in previous photo.

Great Blade summit plateau.

J Harlen Bretz featured a similar photo in his 1932 publication "THE GRAND COULEE". Bretz used caption below to describe image:

Ridge between the monoclinal and synclinal channels, lower Grand Coulee. Looking north from the Great Blade. The lake surface is about 250 feet lower than the synclinal channel floor, and the ridge is about 75 feet higher. Hanging valleys west of the lake were once continuous across both lake canyon and ridge to the synclinal channel.

Interesting plateau

Unless you tell me differently ... I'm guessing Pothole A merged with with a pothole once located at C creating a small channel that will be joined by Pothole B during future floods. The A-C area will then join channel at top right creating Mesa D. Next photos shows examples of mesas lower in the east channel.

East Channel Mesas

Nice elevated walking surface between main channel and pothole.

Great Blade summit plateau. Red arrow points to "Watchdog Rock".
The flowers on this upper terrace were pretty.

Watchdog Rock came in handy as I tried to reach the top of the blade. Once my foot was on the Watchdog's shoulder, I had it made. Pretty cool that he's got a tail.

Not sure why someone felt the need to mark up the Watchdog???


I've always liked the basalt column w/face that looks out over Lower Hampton Lake.

View south to confluence of lower Grand Coulee and east channel. Note elevation difference.

Arrow points to pothole with smooth upper walls. I marked its location on my GPS several years ago. When visiting this area I always take the time to walk over and marvel at the "Polished Pothole". I haven't found another one like it.

My pack sits on rim of the "Polished Pothole".

Bretz wrote about this channel:

The higher eastern channel has cataract ledges across it 50 to 75 feet high, rock basins on its floor 100 feet deep, and a maze of minor anastomosing channels channels and buttes.

Nice clump of flowers thriving on top of the Great Blade.

East Channel

The floods drilled many incredible potholes into the floor of the east channel, including a couple huge ones at the south end. These potholes are amazing but I still have the Deep Lake area potholes at the top of my list.

Drumheller Channels / Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.

The huge system of scabland channels east of the Frenchman Hills sure stands out in this Google image. Irrigated farmland served by the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project borders the 8-mile-wide Drumheller Channels on the east and west. The Bureau of Reclamation uses several of the channels cut by Ice Age Floods to move irrigation water from the Quincy Basin to the Othello Basin.

1. Potholes Reservoir
2. Othello, WA

Irrigation water fills many of the rock basins and potholes in the Drumheller Channels. The habitat created provides excellent opportunities for wildlife observation to Columbia National Wildlife Refuge visitors.

Google aerial image shows:
1. Pothole near Lower Hampton Lake.
2. Large pothole shown in previous image (foreground).
3. Irrigation channel cut by the USBOR at lower end of Long Lake (shown in next image)

The floods didn't leave channels everywhere the USBOR needed them to move water between the Quincy and Othello Basins.

Pothole near Lower Hampton Lake shown in aerial photo above as "1".

This pothole is impressive to view in person (shown as #2 in aerial above).

White Pelican - Lower Hampton Lake

Signs introduce visitors to parts of the refuge trail system.

Found this guy on Youtube - Bagpipes in Lake Lenore cave w/sound.