Dry Falls
Exploring the Scablands of Washington State.

Dry Falls and Palouse Falls

We are on the road again, from Chilliwack, BC. to the channeled scablands of eastern Washington state. An ice age flood, 12,800 years ago, scoured away the soil and carved massive channels in the basalt volcanic rock of eastern Washington State. We are on our way to Dry falls and Palouse falls to see the damage from the flood for ourselves.

We were inspired to explore the scablands, after reading Graham Hancock’s latest book “Magicians of the Gods”. Published in 2015 the book, explains a new theory about the origin of the Scablands and the Columbia Gorge. Something often inspires our trips, we read a book and we want to see it for ourselves.  Grahman Hancock’s books, are backed by extensive research, by reputable scientists. I have always found his alternate views, of human and world history very credible. (see links for more on Graham Hancock’s Books)

The flood that created the scablands, was caused when the melt water from Glaciers that covered North America roared over the state. The accepted theory for the flood, is that an ice dam broke, that was holding back Lake Missoula. This ice age lake, was the size of lake Michigan. J Harlen Bretz, an experienced field geologist, with a doctorate from the University of Chicago, put forth this explanation in a 1923 paper.  Bretz was laughed at and ridiculed by his fellow geologists, when he proposed the massive flood that occurred was catastrophic event that happened over a short period. Geologists tend to believe that geologic processes occur gradually over a long period, not over a period of weeks. Bretz’s explanation was finally accepted as there was no other explanation at the time that stood up.

 Recently a problem with the lake Missoula theory, was discovered, when modern computer calculations of the water volume in lake Missoula, proved that the volume of water in lake Missoula was not large enough, to do the damage that occurred to the landscape.

The latest theory, is supported by evidence, found in the soil layer, dated to 12,800 years ago. This layer contains Nano diamonds that form under high heat, and pressure, and are recognized as evidence of meteor and comet impacts. It has been accepted by many scientists that comet fragments measured in km, struck the North America and European ice caps. This event is the most likely source of the flood stories that are found in cultures all

over the world. The melting ice caps caused a rise in sea level that covered low lying coastal plains worldwide. There were massive extinctions of mammals and extinctions of human populations that lived the coastal plains.

This event caused worldwide cooling, known as the Younger dras period. This period of sudden cooling period lasted 1000 years due to the material that was thrown up into the atmosphere from the comet impacts.  The sun was blocked and the cold water from the melting ice caps disrupted the ocean currents.

The melt water from Washington drained into the Pacific via the Columbia gorge. The Columbia Gorge is an awe-inspiring wonder of geology, looking from the top of the gorge, you cannot help but wonder how it was formed. No explanation seemed adequate for the formation of the gorge until now. The massive flood left boulders along the slopes leading to the gorge, it is estimated that the water filling the gorge was over 1200 feet deep. This turbulent flow full of Ice bergs containing boulders of all sizes formed a dam, at Wallua gap, a constriction of the Colombia gorge and caused water to back up the river. It built higher and higher, until the pressure pushed it through the gap. This process continued until the flood abated and the last of the water drained out to the Pacific, leaving boulders along the flood route as the ice melted.  Massive channels are eroded in the seabed off the mouth of Columbia river as evidence of the violent flow of water that occurred.

 Dry falls our first stop presents a dramatic eroded basalt escarpment dropping 600 feet to the lake, at the bottom of the gorge. The flood poured over the falls, estimated at six times the size of Niagara. This was the largest waterfall; the world has ever seen.  When you stand at the dry falls lookout, it is hard to imagine, water towering 300 feet over your head. The chaotic scene would have had massive ice bergs, crashing, and flowing with the water and carrying mountain size boulders over the falls. The falls was undercut and the cliff fell into the pool below. Over the few weeks of the flood, the falls eroded backwards, 15 miles from current soap lake to where dry falls is today. We stood in awe at the view, taking photos of dry falls, and contemplating what occurred here. Leaving dry falls, we travel south down grand coulee between the eroded cliffs and past massive eroded buttes and mesas.  The pictures don’t do this place justice, the scale is hard to believe unless you see it.

The Lenore caves are an interesting stop along the road. The caves resulted from the flood and were enlarged by freezing and thawing and further breakdown of the basalt. The caves were used as shelter and food storage caches by native American’s, that lived in the area.

A couple of hours drive over the prairie, past the boulders buried in the ground, left from the flood, we reach the town of Moses Lake. Moses lake was originally a shallow natural lake that was dammed to form a reservoir for irrigation water. The Best Western on the shore of Moses lake was our home for the next couple of days while we explored the area. This peaceful location on the eastern shore of the lake has a beautiful view.( request a waterfront room if you visit). The motel faces west and there is panoramic view from the floor to ceiling windows of the dining room  The sunsets were beautiful, with the rippled lake fading into the aqua blue of the sky and the silhouettes of the hills, trees, and buildings, against the orange of the fading sun.  Moses lake is the largest city in this region with a population of 20,000.
The next day we drove east towards Palouse falls, across the rolling prairie and watched the farms pass by. Boulders, dropped here when the ice bergs got stranded, rise like small islands in the farmer’s fields, with grain planted all around. We pass through the small farm towns; the grain silos are the largest structures in town. 

The landscape driving to Palouse Falls
 We reach Palouse falls after a pleasant drive under blue skies, the white clouds sailing across the prairie cast dark shadows that slide across the golden wheat. Palouse falls, is a remaining remnant of the water that flowed during the flood. it plunges over a basalt rock falls into the foaming aqua green water of the pool below. The rough basalt cliffs line the pool and river gorge, evidence of the massive flood that flowed 12800 years ago.

The park is a quiet place and only a few tourists are walking the trails along the cliff top.  Marmots, living on the edge, of the cliffs in the crevices and rocks came out to warm themselves in the sun. They groom for our photo op and we take the required photos of the cute furry performers.

Marmots Grooming
Palouse Falls
Back on the road we take an alternate route to Moses Lake. The afternoon traffic is sparse and we make good time back to our hotel. After a meal overlooking the lake and our last night’s stay we depart in the morning for home. I marvel at what we have seen and how catastrophic geological events can occur. Extinctions of species can happen, including man but we survive. It makes you think about what other events are in our future, is another undiscovered comet lurking in space, that will drop in unexpectedly.

Links to travel apps -and further information for this story.
Dry Falls

Palouse Falls

This and much more is covered in Grahams books and I urge you have a look at his website if alternate views of human history are of interest to you.

We are members of the Best western Rewards program which we find is one of best. We built up three free nights and about $250 dollars in cash that they had offered as extra incentives over last year. So, part of this trip was free. https://www.bestwestern.com/fr_FR/best-western-rewards.html?iata=00170260&ssob=PSPBM0104G&cid=PSPBM0104G:google:PBMS4%20|%20Rewards%20|%20Exact:best%20western%20rewards

See more here on trip advisor.

We use the Roadtrippers app to plan our overall trips, you can add as many stops as you want and search a certain area either side of the main route for hotels, rv parks etc. It works well to find interesting places, interesting routes and works well in conjunction with google maps for short trips or side trips.

Boulder park - boulders dropped by the Glaciers



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