Our Daily Sykes #83 – Alkali Lake, Lower Grand Coulee

Horace Sykes' look north through the Lower Grand Coulee from the south shore of Alkali Lake. His prospect is about half way between the community of Soap Lake (to the south) and Dry Falls (to the north). It is roughly ten miles to each. Washington State Route 17 follows the Coulee. It is an adventure in cliff watching. The six larger lakes that string along these twenty miles are, from south to north, Soap, Lenore (the longest of them), Alkali (a relative shorty), Blue, Park, and Dry Falls Lake. The last at 1511 feet snuggles below Dry Falls, which are about 300 feet high. (Dry Falls are given elaborate attention with their own Our Daily Sykes #17.) Alkali lake has an elevation of 1090 feet, which puts it about 1300 feet below the farmland to the east. The Grand Coulee - and much else in eastern Washington - is a creation of the Missoula Floods. As I understand it, the coulee was carved from south to north, so that the Dry Falls began forming southwest of Ephrata and then rapidly (for geological time) eroded its way north until it reached the present line above Sun Lakes State Park and stopped there. This multiple flooding between 15,000 and 18,000 years ago has been wonderfully studied and convincingly simulated, although in sections - like at the Wallula Gap - it still has some "splaining to do" - to quote Desi Arnaz waving his finger at Lucille Ball. (Click to Enlarge)

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