Friday, July 22, 2016

Smilkameen - Chopaka

A bit of lack connectivity of late. 
Made a side trip to the Smilkameen - Chapaka Wildlife Unit. The wildlife unit was purchased by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2012. The purchase involved several parcels and was at least partially funded by the Bonneville Power Administration as mitigation for dams on the Columbia River  
Oxbow lake in Smilkameen River valley at Smilkameen - Chopaka Wildlife Area 

The Smilkameen River flows into north central Washington State from Canada east of the North Cascades. The river has a short stint in Washington before joining the Okanogan River at Oroville.

The geologic history of this river is complex. The river follows a deep valley though the mountains and likely was part of a larger river system that was altered by continental ice, and parts of the valley likely received diversions of water during the last glacial period. The last glacial period covered much of the North Cascades and mountains to the north in continental ice and the river systems were a bit rearranged as advancing ice blocked rivers and sent water down different drainages.

Perhaps the most spectacular feature of the valley is the steep and very high rise of Chopaka Mountain. The summit of the mountain is 6,500 feet above the valley floor over a horizontal distance of 2.5 miles. This sharp rise is approaching but a bit short but comparable to the Grand Tietons.
Chopaka Mountain

Chopaka Mountain

The east side of the valley

The road up the valley dead ends at a tract of Confederated Colville Tribal land. The Canadian border is a bit beyond. The local border patrol stopped by to make sure we were not up to some nefarious activity.  

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