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Palouse Falls - G10 large jpeg | by oldmantravels
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Palouse Falls - G10 large jpeg

Usually I shoot high compression, small file size photos with my Canon G9 & G10 cameras. Here, I took the opportunity to crank the G10 up for just one large jpeg file size image for this shot of the Palouse River waterfalls, with high water flows (March 29, 2009).


The Palouse River Canyon waterfalls are located somewhat near the small "towns" of Washtucna and Kahlotus - - in Eastern Washington.


After driving some narrow winding two lane asphalt roads through rolling wheat country of the Palouse, a short dirt road takes you to Palouse Falls State Park. Picnic area and around 10 tent sites at the park.


If you watch your step, there are interesting "rim" trails heading down and up river from the waterfalls.


Recent heavy rains has the falls running high and heavy on March 29, 2009. There are some interesting rapids a mile upriver from the waterfalls and downriver, the Palouse River meets the Snake River, four or five miles downriver from the falls.


These waterfalls are 200 feet high and were formed when the many ancient Lake Missoula floods scoured the entrire countryside, thousands of years ago. The size of the floods (especially the first one), were of unbelievable sizes.



About 12,750 years ago, during the last glacial period in North America a glacier from what is now Canada, moved down and blocked the flow of the Clark Fork River, near what is now Sandpoint, Idaho. For perhaps 50 years, the flow of the river slowly filled a huge lake behind the glacial dam.


The lake that was formed behind the glacial ice dam was HUGE (about half the size of Lake Michigan). When the lake level became high enough the ice dam “floated” and collapsed in a single moment, letting loose a flood of water of unimaginable size and power.


The flood scoured Eastern Washington, all the way down the Columbia River gorge to the Pacific Ocean. Rocks and boulders, that could have come from nowhere else in North America, except the bedrock around Missoula, Montana were washed or floated on ice bergs, all the way across Eastern Washington and even up the Willamette River valley of Oregon. These “erratic” boulders can be seen in farmer’s fields to this day, as can gigantic ripple marks from the flood.


This glacier advance, form dam, dam fail process would repeat itself over thousands of years. This means that there wasn’t just one gigantic flood but up to a couple dozen or more. The first one was the biggest, but the others were huge as well.


The date for early man’s presence in the Americas keeps getting pushed back farther and farther in time, and I personally believe, that “man” was there to witness these great floods. Imagine that. Today if you view the Grand Coulee area of Eastern Washington; dry falls; Wallula Gap; or Palouse Falls - - you can only try to imagine the flood forces that formed this landscape. [Most information paraphrased from David Alt’s book: Glacial Lake Missoula and its humongous floods]. OldManTravels 2009

UPDATE: After visiting Palouse Falls, I decided to pull David Alt's book on the "Glacial Lake Missoula floods" from my book shelf, and reread it. Chapter 20 starting on page 123 specifically talks about how Palouse Falls was formed (entirely by the series of tremendous floods from Glacial Lake Missoula, during the ice age of about 12,500 years ago).


The original course of the Palouse River was not down the lower channel and over the current falls. It wound around the town of Washtucna, and from there down the present day Washtucna Coulee toward the town of Kahlotus. The Palouse River has only occupied its lower course to the Snake River, following the first of the many big floods that occured and those floods are the one that formed the entire canyon, falls, and plunge pool, you and I see at Palouse Falls today. OMT


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Taken on March 29, 2009