Uncategorized

Lake Lenore Caves

Located in central Washington, the Lake Lenore Caves are a nice place to relax and catch some awesome views.  Hiking up the path from the parking lot, the trails are well defined and easy to follow.  Concrete stairs lead to the top of a section of basalt, and the trails splits at that point.  The easier terrain to navigate leads to the right, while also offering a more direct route to the caves.  The caves are very easy to find, as the trail leads right to them.  They are not extremely expansive by any means, but the caves are large enough for a group to sit and eat lunch or find a cool spot to rest for a bit.  Some more challenging landscapes are off to the left, and hikers should lead with caution when walking that path.  From what I understand, there are signs posted at points to show some dangerous areas that are not recommended for hiking.  Another thing hikers should keep in mind is to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes, as pointed out by the Washington Trails Association.

 

Geologically this area was formed during the last ice age, during a time of immense flooding.  Torrential waters raced through the area, and ripped away chunks of basalt creating many of the ravines that can be found in Washington state.  Since then, the natural process of water getting into crevices in the basalt then repeatedly freezing and warming have hollowed out the caves.  The caves also bear a bit of a social history also, as natives were known to utilize them close to 5,000 years ago.  It is thought the caves were seasonal shelters, in which some of the natives would live and work there gathering plants, fish, and other supplies.  Spring and Summer would have been the most active, but as the seasons changed the natives would return to the permanent villages.  As mentioned on the website Only in Your State, some of the native petroglyphs can still be found along the walls.

 

Standing on the ridgeline, visitors can catch great views of Lake Lenore below which has a bit of an interesting story as well.  As explained by Heather Carr on Insteading.com the lake was once thought to be uninhabitable.  It was thought the geology of the area created an alkaline ph in the water that wouldn’t support life, so the military actually used it for a dumping ground at one point in time.  In 1947 the War Assets Administration had to dispose of 10 tons of metallic sodium, and they couldn’t find anyone willing to risk transporting it.  So the decision was made to drop the stuff into Lake Lenore, because the reaction would destroy the sodium.  Once the metallic sodium reacted with water, it would explode and release sodium hydroxide, hydrogen gas, and a lot of heat.

Here is a link to a YouTube video showing the disposal:  The Disposal of Sodium, 1947

 

Thanks for viewing, please like, leave a comment and share with friends.  Don’t forget to hit that subscribe button!

Advertisements
Uncategorized

The Beauty & Power of Palouse Falls

If you are thinking of travel in the Pacific Northwest or in Washington specifically, then Palouse Falls has got to be on your bucket list.  This powerhouse of a waterfall is incredible when the water levels are high, although it is quite majestic throughout the entire year.  The tremendous landscapes draw in large numbers of people, and on March 18, 2014 it was officially made Washington’s state waterfall according to the Washington State Parks website.

Photographers and artists alike make every effort to capture vibrant sunrises and captivating sunsets.  Palouse Falls does have a specific area with designated paths for walking, however there are a plethora of paths that lead to a multitude of incredible viewpoints, including the very edge of the waterfall looking down.

 

Warning signs are in place, because there is a pretty good risk of falling if hikers are not careful.  I went on several of the trails outside of the state park area, and found it to be quite an adventure although I recommend staying in the designated area unless well prepared.  One of the trails off by the railroad tracks had an old rope tied around a large bush and I was able to utilize that rope to rappel down the incline and reach the trails below.  That rope would serve as my only way back up the hill as well, making this trip more of an adventure than I had initially thought it would be.  This point is where I had my first interaction with some local wildlife, as I happened to spot a solitary yellow bellied marmot at the top of the hill, and another dozen or so down tucked into the rocky hillside below.  Other animals that visitors can possibly encounter are different birds of prey such as Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, and Swainson’s Hawks.  These birds of course can occasionally be seen perched along the basalt cliffs or flying around scouting an area for possible food.  In the springtime, tourists to the area can expect to see some nice wildflowers growing as well.

 

The waterfall has quite an extensive history, both geologically and culturally.  According to many sources there is a tale once told by people of the Palouse Tribe, the Palouse river and waterfall were the scene of an epic battle between 4 giant brothers and a mythical creature called “Big Beaver.”  Story has it the brothers chased and attacked the creature 5 times, and each time they struck “Big Beaver” with a spear it caused a bend in the river.  The creature fought fiercely and valiantly during the fifth attack from the brothers.  The struggle tore out an enormous canyon, and this is where the river fell over the ledge and became Palouse Falls.  The canyon walls are said to show the jagged edges from “Big Beaver’s” claw marks.  Also, as mentioned on www.stateparks.com the waterfall was once called “Aputapat” meaning “falling water” or something close to that, but was later changed to honor the Palouse culture.

Geologically the canyon’s creation goes back around 13,000 years to a time of Ice Age Flooding and glacial movement, leaving Palouse Falls as one of the few remaining active waterfalls along this ancient glacial flood path.  The floods of that time were said to be extremely violent and catastrophic.  The park has plenty of information signs and a kiosk available for people to learn a bit about the floods.  These Ice Age floods left a destructive path as the ice, water, and mud ripped tons of rock and earth away to carve the canyons in parts of eastern Washington and the Columbia River Gorge on the way to the ocean at speeds possibly reaching close to 60 mph.  The state park here is also one of the more active camping areas in the region, so some pre-planning is almost essential if you want to make it in during low traffic times.

 

Campsites are available, and a lot of good information can be found by once again going to www.stateparks.com for price listings and regulations specific to Palouse Falls State Park.  A quick rundown shows that standard sites run $15, while utility sites are a bit more at $21.  Visitors can also expect to pay dump fees when using the dump station.  Campsites allow up to 8 people per site, and second vehicles can remain parked for an additional $10 per night.  Campers are allowed up to 10 consecutive days during the busy season, and they stay is extended to 20 days between October 1st and the end of March.  A Washington State Discover Pass is also required, or visitors will have to pay the park entrance fee of $10 for the day also.  Anyone visiting the park and waterfall will certainly be in awe of the massively majestic landscapes, and the crushing current that cascades nearly 200 feet into the canyon below.  Just remember to stay happy and stay safe when visiting!

Here are a few clips from my hike through the area:

Please comment, share, and subscribe!

Uncategorized

Frozen Falls, and That’s not All

Adventuring in the Pacific Northwest is pretty easy with all of the incredible landscapes in the region.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to choose where to go or what to do, simply because there are so many options when considering the great outdoors.  Well, one area I would highly recommend would be the area surrounding Banks Lake and Steamboat Rock State Park, but you will probably need to visit more than one time in order to see all of the wonders this place has to offer.  The time of year in which you visit is also a major factor, because this place has several waterfalls that are only active from February into early and mid Spring.  My daughter and I visited the area on February 25, 2018 and we had an amazing time exploring, learning, and viewing the sites.

The two obvious natural settings that people should take in are of course the lake itself, which stretches 27 miles, and is home to a variety of fish.  Species include, but are not limited to, smallmouth and largemouth bass, rainbow trout, yellow perch, kokanee, walleye, and more.  This makes it an ideal spot for birds of prey to hunt for fish, and then return to the towering cliffs that run along the lake.

 

The  Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife  describes Banks Lake as being “ringed with basalt cliffs and talus slopes” which are colossal as you stand beneath them to watch the waterfalls.  When the falls are frozen and ice chunks break off, the thundering sound of ice smashing against ice is deafening as it echoes off of the cliffs.

We can’t forget about Steamboat Rock when we are talking about the cliffs either, as it sits atop the largest peninsula that juts out into Banks Lake.  It rises an incredible 800 feet above the lake and is roughly 600 acres on the surface.  It also has an incredible amount of things to offer any park visitors and campers.

 

According to www.stateparks.com “Steamboat Rock is a long-established area landmark, first used by nomadic Native American tribes and then by early settlers. The military currently uses the area for aircraft flying training missions.”  The area history before people were there simply points to a lot of glacial activity and ice age floods that helped to create the landscape we see today.  During the warmer months, the camping amenities are top notch and sites are scattered throughout a handful of areas.  Washington State Parks is another great resource for anyone interested in learning about what the park has to offer, any camping fees and regulations, etc.  As with other state parks in Washington, the Discover Pass is required for vehicle day use, or you can pay the required daily fee at the park station.  Next, we can learn a bit more about the area waterfalls.

Here is a brief narrative of the area:

Most of the areas waterfalls are unofficially named, except for Martin Falls, which was frozen solid at the time of my most recent visit.  I was able to find Paynes Gulch Falls, Rusho Creek Falls, and several others during my short day trip there.  Here is a short narrated clip featuring a few bits of what the area has to offer, but keep in mind I went a bit early in the season and the waterfalls were pretty much frozen solid.

Although my daughter and I didn’t see it when we visited, Martin Falls is the only officially named waterfall in the area according to the World Waterfall Database.  We didn’t get to see it, because we may have been early in the season, as nearly all of the waterfalls were frozen or barely flowing.  In either regard, they were all still very majestic and can all be found by browsing through the database mentioned above.  Most of these waterfalls are dropping from a very high distance, varying from just over 100 feet to an enormous 504 feet.  All of these points being made, this area is a spectacular place to visit and I certainly hope to visit again in the near future.