Erratic Behavior

by Dennis Peterson

14. December 2014 · Comments Off on Erratic Behavior · Categories: Geography, Geology, History, Ice Age, Nature

Probably not what you thought…This is a story about rocks, where they are, and how they got there. This last part first: How they got there. The Okanogan River valley geography is inseparable from the effects of the great ice sheets that covered this region up to the beginning of the Holocene epoch. It is hard to imagine glaciers a mile high covering the Okanogan Highlands, the city of Oroville, all of the Okanogan River valley, and in fact all of northern Washington State. The Cordilleran Ice Sheet buried everything from the Pacific Ocean to what is now Montana and north as far as Alaska. The Okanogan lobe of that ice sheet is what provided so much beauty in our region.

The ice sheets were very active, continually though slowly sliding and grinding south for many thousands of years, ending their travels only when the southern most climate calved and melted them back as fast as they traveled. Carried effortlessly along with that ice were untold tons of rocks and boulders, some larger than houses. Some of these travelers came from places very far to the north, in fact. Some were carried to the glacial terminus while others were simply dropped in place as the glaciers retreated. They’re still here and we recognize them because they look absolutely out of place. And they are. They are known as erratics.

This article is about my quest to find as many of these notable and interesting erratics as I can and present them photographically, along with the approximate location. As such this article will be updated as I stumble onto these lurking travelers. As the mood strikes I will provide some interesting science associated with the North Okanogan, Washington State, and the stunning effects of the Great Missoula Floods.

I’ll kick things off with this beautiful image of the Waterville Plateau because there is a story to tell about this place and why it is special. From Wikipedia:

Erratics on the Waterville Plateau

Erratics on the Waterville Plateau

How cool is that? Now I have a story to tell you so I’m going to need a few days to spin it. Watch for Part 2

The second installment can be seen here: http://northokanogan.com/?p=477