September 10, 2010 – Moses Coulee

Moses Coulee, Channeled Scablands

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hey everyone! Earlier this week, I mentioned that, due to forecasted crappy weather in the Cascades, I ended up heading across the mountains, out to the desert for a night. I still haven’t had a chance to look through all the pics I got, but there are definitely some decent ones. You may also remember me mentioning that I was surprised to see that there’s some really pretty stuff out there. Now you can start to get an idea what I was talking about. It was really nice!

This is taken near the top of Moses Coulee, which is a little ways east of Wenatchee. This spot is actually just up the canyon from the (little) town of Palisades. Driving up the canyon is definitely worth the time – there are these huge basalt walls the whole way up, and most of the canyon is irrigated, so the floor is carpeted with vibrant green crops. It’s a really pretty juxtaposition, it’s truly gorgeous in the late afternoon when the sun is nice and golden. (Or, early in the morning, as I also found out.) As you get nearer to the top of the canyon, the farm (and ranch) lands end, the road turns to dirt, and you get back to natural vegetation. The whole area was deserted when we were there, despite the fact that it was Labor Day Weekend, so we had our choice of hundreds of nice spots to lay down our camp. (We tossed around the idea of backpacking in somewhere, but it was getting late, we didn’t do our research beforehand, and a lot of the land was actually privately owned, so we figured it wasn’t worth the effort.) We very nearly chose a spot right smack in the middle of that big valley floor that you’re looking at, but instead we ended up a little further down the canyon, that still had sunlight until an hour or two after this picture was taken (and also had the benefit of a nice early sunrise).

Moses Coulee is part of the larger land area called the “Channeled Scablands”, which take up a significant portion of central Washington state. If you aren’t already familiar with the area, I strongly urge you to do some reading about it (just type “channeled scablands” into your favorite search engine to get started), it’s really fascinating. Basically, the whole landscape was torn completely to shreds during the last ice age. There was a huge lake in western Montana (Glacial Lake Missoula) that would repeatedly form due to ice blocking off the drainage. Eventually (every 50 years or so) the water would overwhelm the plug, and kajillions of gallons of water would come rushing over all of the Idaho panhandle and Washington state. The flow was absolutely ridiculous, the entire area would get covered in a couple hundred feet of water in the matter of a couple days or something like that (I’m completely making up all these details, but they’re available all over the place). During these flood periods, the spot now known as “Dry Falls” became the largest known waterfall to ever flow on the planet – 3 and a half miles long, falling 400 feet. Apparently the river was about 300 feet deep, travelling around 65 miles per hour when it hit the falls. According to Wikipedia, the flow of water over the falls was equal to **10 TIMES** the TOTAL flow of all modern-day rivers COMBINED. That’s pretty ridiculous. And, this is the result. Cool stuff!

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel T1i, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens. 1/200s, f/4.5, ISO 200. Focal length: 11mm.

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One Comment

  1. avatar
    joan knapp September 10, 2010

    Great pic!
    I really miss eastern Washington. Great scenery and ambience.
    Thanks for sharing.

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