Saturday, September 20, 2014

Camas Prairie

Had I written a tour guide for the first day and a half of our trip, it would have talked a lot about the repeated flushing of Lake Missoula down the Clark Fork Valley and out across the scablands of eastern Washington to the Columbia (a long time ago). We traveled U.S. 2 across Washington, across Moses Coulee and past Dry Falls. Last night we stayed in Thompson Falls atop an enormous gravel terrace that dates to the floods. And this morning I detoured up past Rainbow Lake (scoured and plucked by the floods) and back to the Clark Fork across Camas Prairie.

Camas Prairie is best appreciated early in the morning or late in the afternoon, since the low light and shadowing would accentuate the fields of giant ripples left when the plug was pulled on Lake Missoula and the water north of here flooded southward across this valley.  The ripples are hundreds of feet apart, indicating very deep, very fast water.

Unfortunately, we didn't get here until midday and the sun was too high in the sky, so this photo doesn't really do justice to the ripples. But with a little imagination, you can not only see the ripples on the broad valley floor, but you can also see the old lake shorelines on the hills in the background (you've got to look carefully on the expanded image).

My companions are willing and cooperative travelers, but aren't terribly interested in the geologic stories (they don't even believe them), they don't seem to appreciate geographic trivia the way I do, and I think they ignore most of my historical anecdotes. Maybe I should probably focus more on the distribution of cell towers in the American west and factors influencing the life of lithium batteries.

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