A desert with lakes?
Have you ever seen a desert with lakes and a waterfall? Actually not just a waterfall, but a waterfall gracefully flowing into a lake? How can this place even be true? Well, it is and it’s gorgeously beautiful for hiking.
The long story behind the Ancient Lakes in Washington State began as far back as 40-60mln years ago, when the so called Grand Coulee was formed. It is a huge ancient river bed which belongs to the Columbia Plateau and its name (“coulée“) comes from French and means to strain/to flow (in a manner similar to lava).
To cut the long story short: the region is close to the Eastern edges of the Cascade mountains where a “Rain shadow effect” has created an area with very dry and hot climate.
Simultaneously, it is also a part of the Grand Culee which I mentioned earlier: a giant bedrock which kept uplifting and subsiding over the course of millions of years and has undergone a series of major volcanic eruptions, in areas which were later covered by glacial ice which subsequently cause massive floods in the area. Dynamic, isn’t it? No wonder it is such a fascinating place. Nowadays, there are huge irrigation distribution networks across the Columbia basin and the combination of all these factors gives you the ultimate hiking dream: a scorching desert with lakes and a waterfall.
On the way to the trail
Water and rocks, green, blue, brown and grey. Plus the red of my sunburnt face.
This seven-hour hike is one of the outdoor experiences I will always remember vividly – it is a unique area and a lovely first encounter with the beauty of American nature and its many paradoxes.
Twin Peaks Afterparty?
Tips & Tricks:– it is about a 6.5-7h hike, 11 miles (17km) for the roundtrip– on your way to the Ancient lakes, definitely take the time to see the huge steel stallions by David Govedare, called Grandfather cuts loose the ponies (near the Columbia River basin)–if you don’t have hiking shoes- wear your least favourite sneakers: by the end of the hike you won’t even be able to recognize their original color: there is so much dust along the way-learn the basics of How to avoid rattle snakes in desert areas!– take a lot of water with you!– take sunscreen and a light wind jacket if you don’t want to get the worst sunburn in your life (I did. And I am still telling stories about it…)–bring a map (and a compass) or a GPS device: it looks like an easy and straightforward hike but we did go in circles at one point and after a long day in the sun you might just want to save yourself the trouble 😉-keep the plants intact and preserve nature 🙂