All posts by Jacob Wagner

Geologist gives guided hike

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Geologist gives guided hike

by Jacob Wagner

Geologist Bruce Bjornstad came to Dry Falls-Sun Lakes State Park to give a guided tour of the Caribou Trail to a dog and about 10 human hikers both local, from the Seattle area, and as far away as New England last Saturday.

The approximately 90-minute guided hike started with Bjornstad showing maps of the area depicting what things were like during the Missoula Floods. He showed how a large ice dam used to be where the Grand Coulee Dam is now, and how that had diverted the Columbia River through the Grand Coulee, past Steamboat Rock, and so on. When the ice dam melted, the Columbia took on its current course.

Bjornstad, a licensed geologist/hydrogeologist who used to work for Hanford nuclear production complex in the Tri-Cities area, explained the timescale of the coulees being carved, explaining what a unique feature they are on the planet Earth, the closest thing similar being the landscapes of the planet Mars.

Hiking to huge potholes resembling craters above Deep Lake, Bjornstad explained that they were formed by whirlpools or eddies in the waters that had flooded the region, and simply dug the rocks out of the ground and sent them flying with the sheer force of the current.

“These are some of the best potholes in the world,” Bjornstad said. “There’s dozens of them up there. A lot of times you won’t see them until you’re right up next to them within a few feet when all of the sudden the ground will disappear. They can be hundreds of feet deep and hundreds of feet wide.”

Throughout the hike, Bjornstad was able to answer questions and explain geological features of the region.

A video series Bjornstad produces called Floodscapes is available to view on Youtube. The videos show stunning aerial footage shot with a drone of landscapes shaped by the Missoula Floods, including the Deep Lake Potholes.

 

Kids Fest, Fireworks, Bull Riding & Astronomy this weekend in the Coulee

Peddle boats at Coulee Playland are a blast on Koulee Kids Day  

Great events will be happening in the Grand Coulee Dam area this weekend: Koulee Kids Fest, a fireworks show, bull riding, and astronomy.

The annual Koulee Kids Fest runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on this Saturday, June 17. The free event offers kids the opportunity to play mini golf, ride pedal boats, and much much more. Click HERE for more info.

 

Fireworks will be launched from North Dam in Grand Coulee on Saturday night, June 17, from around 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. Coulee Playland is offering free boat launches for those wanting to watch from the waters of Banks Lake. North Dam Park and Banks Lake Park, and all surrounding areas are good places to see the event. Click HERE for more info.

 

The Cleatis Lacy Memorial Bull Riding event will take place on Friday, June 16 at the Ridge Rider Rodeo Grounds in Grand Coulee starting at 7 p.m. The event will also include a wild horse race. Click HERE for more info.

The National Park Service will host a free public astronomy presentation at Crescent Bay on Friday, June 16, from 9-11:30 P.M.

Big tent circus coming to Grand Coulee on June 8

 

The circus is coming to town, and no, not your in-laws. An actual circus! The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus, to be exact. Complete with lions, tigers, a huge tent, and a variety of other entertainment.

The circus will take place at North Dam Park on Thursday, June 8, with two 90-minute shows starting at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The circus has been featured on National Geographic’s Explorer television series, Entertainment Tonight, the A&E special “Under the Big Top,” and in “On the Road with Circus Kids,” a Nickelodeon special.

A press release from Culpepper & Merriweather said that additional acts will include trapeze, prancing ponies, unicycles, a female contortionist, and tightrope walkers. Original music, a giant tent, elaborate costumes, and original music complete the experience.

Between 9:30 and 10 a.m. the curious are welcome to watch the raising of the big tent and receive a free tour, offering the opportunity to learn all about the circus, including topics such as the hygiene, grooming, and veterinary care of all the animals.

The Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce was approached in December by Culpepper & Merriweather about hosting the circus while they were in the surrounding area. The chamber said yes, agreeing to provide running water, a dumpster, and to dispose of the animal waste. A check for $290 from the Chamber may be refunded if there are enough ticket sales to cover all the expenses.

The event marks the first time a full-fledged circus has been in the area since the last millennium.

Tickets are available for purchase at Coulee Dam Federal Credit Union, H&H Grocery, Coulee Hardware, The Star newspaper, Loepp’s Furniture, the Nespelem Trading Post, the Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce, Coulee Medical Center, Grand Coulee Dam Senior Center. Advance tickets are $10 for adults, and $7 for seniors and children ages 2-12. Children under two get in free. On show day, tickets will be $13 for adults and $8 for seniors and children.

Lake Roosevelt water level rising with spring runoff

Overlooking Crescent Bay
Lake Roosevelt is low as shown here overlooking Crescent Bay, but some boat launches are open.

The spring runoff from melting snow in Canada is now coming down the Columbia River, and Lake Roosevelt is beginning to refill.

Following the long 2016-17 winter, Lake Roosevelt has been kept at a low water level in anticipation of the large mountain runoff to come.

Currently, with the water level at an elevation of about 1,243 feet above sea level, the target for May 31 is for the lake to be no higher than 1,262, according to the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. The lake is completely full at 1,290 feet.

Flood control levels are determined by the Corps of Engineers, and are the major factor in water levels this time of year while the lake is operated as a large catch-basin to hold back snowmelt water that could otherwise cause flooding downstream.

The Colville Tribes had asked the Corps of Engineers to keep the water level above 1,232, the lowest operational level for the Gifford-Inchelium Ferry.

Although many boat launches on Lake Roosevelt are inoperable due to the low water levels, they are open at Spring Canyon, Keller Ferry, Seven Bays, Hunters Camp, and Kettle Falls. As the water rises, by the end of May, Crescent Bay, Hansen Harbor, Lincoln Mill, Fort Spokane, Gifford, Daisy, Bradbury Beach, and more boat launches should all be operational.

The Porcupine Bay launch is currently inaccessible because of a landslide earlier this year.

More information on current lake levels, and the minimum operable lake levels for many boat launches can be found at http://www.gcdvisitor.com/boat-launch-accessibility-on-lake-roosevelt/ 

Lake Roosevelt water level to rise with spring runoff

 

 The spring runoff has begun and Lake Roosevelt is beginning to refill.

 Following the long 2016-17 winter, Lake Roosevelt has been kept at a low water level in anticipation of the large mountain runoff to come.

 Currently, with the water level at an elevation of about 1,235 feet above sea level, the target for May 31 is for the lake to be no higher than 1,262, according to the U. S. Bureau of Reclamation. The lake is completely full at 1,290 feet.

 Flood control levels are determined by the Corps of Engineers, and are the major factor in water levels this time of year while the lake is operated as a large catch-basin to hold back snowmelt water that could otherwise cause flooding downstream.

 The Colville Tribes had asked to keep the water level above 1,232 which is the lowest operational level for the Gifford Ferry near Inchelium.

 Although many boat launches on Lake Roosevelt are inoperable due to the low water levels, they are still open at Spring Canyon, Keller Ferry, Seven Bays, Hunters Camp, and Kettle Falls. As the water rises, by the end of May, Crescent Bay, Hansen Harbor, Lincoln Mill, Fort Spokane, Porcupine Bay, Gifford, Daisy, Bradbury Beach, and more boat launches should all be operational.  

 More information on current lake levels, and the minimum operable lake levels for many boat launches can be found at http://www.gcdvisitor.com/boat-launch-accessibility-on-lake-roosevelt/