The Erratic Tour
and other miscellaneous stuff
May 8-11, 2015
This trip started out as a geologic investigation of the Missoula Floods that devistated the Central Washington region repeatedly over a period of a couple of thousand years ago. We did pretty well sticking to the script through most of the first day. But we got sidetracked by other geologic wonders and ended up taking a rather different track than our original plan. It was all good, however, and we had a great time.
Friday - From Ellensburg we headed east toward the Petrified Ginko Forest state park. We were disappointed - first of all, Washington has a required permit system for its state parks. We didn't have a permit and there was no obvious way to acquire one. Secondly the park didn't open until 10am and we weren't going to hang around and wait 2 hours. We just avoided Washington satate parks the rest of the trip.
Anyway, we proceeded on to Frenchman Coulee, snapped a few pictures and moved on to what I think was probably the most spectacular scene of the entire trip. West Bar is on the west side of the Columbia River across from Trinidad, Wa. To me, this is one of the most spectacular evicences of the Missoula Floods. The bar is 4 miles long, and sits 150 feet higher than the river. The bar exhibits current ripples created by flood waters 400 feet deep traveling at speeds of at least 60 mph. The ripples are 20-30 feet high and measure 300 feet from crest to crest. I also discovered a spectacular location for viewing this amazing phenomanon. You're welcome!
We stopped for lunch in Wenatchee and decided to visit Ohme Gardens. Work on the garden began in 1929, a labour of love that transformed a rocky bluff into a simulated alpine wonderland. The garden opened to the public in 1939 and was well worth the visit. Herman and Ruth Ohme built and maintained the garden until 1971. It is currently owned and managed by Chelan County.
We proceeded north and decided to go see the Omak blanced rock. This is certainly an oddity, and apparently not well known. A glacial erratic, this huge boulder sits perched atop a small rocky protrubance, and appears just ready to roll down the hill. This little detour cost us the opportunity to visit Dry Falls State Park that day. Oh well...
Saturday - We had to weigh our options - go to Dry Falls, or head out to Mansfield to see the erratics - Yeager Rock primarily. This turned out to be quite a different trip. It's not often you head out into remote regions to look at big rocks sitting in fields. It's also difficult to explain to people, so think about this before you head out, or just don't tell anyone. Yeager Rock and its smaller siblings are scattered across the high plateau after being dropped by the retreating Cordilleran Ice Sheet. A little farther south is the moraine that marks the furthest south that the ice sheet intruded into Washington. The moraine is a couple hundred feet high and still remarkably visible despite its age.
From there we headed south through Moses Coulee to Soap Lake. Pretty uneventful with the exception of the rather spectacular scenery, providing of course that you enjoy really big rocks, farmland, coulees and mineral water.
Sunday afternoon found us all the way down in Baker City, Oregon at the Oregon Trail Interpretive center. The center is at the top of a hill with fabulous views of the Baker Valley, Blue and Wallowa Mountains, and the Oregon Trail.
Monday morning we left Baker City via hwy 7 through the Sumpter Valley to Hwy 26, John Day to the Fossil Beds. From the fossil beds we turn north through Kimberley, Spray, Fossil, Condon and Wasco, and home via the freeway.