Sunday, February 5, 2017

Washtucna to the Snake Coulees in the Snow

During my various recent ventures in eastern Washington I spent a bit of time in some of the coulees that were eroded by ice age floods between Washtucna Coulee and the Snake River. The Washtucna Coulee is the former route of the Palouse River. When the huge ice age floods surged across the Palouse south of Spokane the flood waters filled the entire Palouse River valley and flood waters then spilled over the top of the Palouse Valley and flowed to the Snake River Canyon carving deep narrow gorges into the landscape along joint structures in the Columbia River Basalt Group (see palouse-falls  and devils-canyon-south-of-kahlotus).
My views of the coulees were somewhat enhanced by the snow cover. There was also some obscuring and access issues with the snow.
View across Washtucna Coulee just east of Kahlotus
The upper end of Devils Canyon is in the center of picture

View down Devils Canyon
Above the deep coulees there are some survivor Palouse hills that got partially washed away by the flood waters.
Lone Palouse hill rising above the ice age flood pathway

Palouse hill cut by flood water spill over just above a coulee

View down the upper end of Davin? Coulee
Just beyond the cattle is a dry falls.

The ? after Davin is because I don't know if this coulee has an official name, but there is a road by that name that enters the lower coulee (the road becomes private part way to the coulee) and a very old track that continues to the Snake River.

View down towards the lower end of Davin? Coulee

View across Davin? Coulee

Another unnamed coulee
With the snow the various water levels that flooded this coulee can be seen
 Despite the cold and snow I did have some company.

These guys seemed perplexed but cautious at my presence

This pair wanted nothing to do with me when I hiked over the ridge
For the most part dry land wheat and scrub steppe back roads are fairly decent. They get graded and kept up in order to have truck and equipment access to fields or cattle gathering spots. But with deeper snow in spots, I opted to stop and walk versus losing the road or getting stuck in a hidden by snow gully.   
Time to start walking

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