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Scrooge
Famous Grouse



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Famous Grouse
PostFri Sep 13, 2013 4:25 pm 
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Boulder Park detail
Boulder Park detail

Boulder Park, until now it’s just been a name on the map, up in the northwest corner of Washington’s Waterville Plateau (a little outside my usual area of interest, the Grand and Moses Coulees).

1.1 Boulder Park and McNeil Canyon area edtd
1.1 Boulder Park and McNeil Canyon area edtd

However, Larch and I spent Labor Day weekend up in the Methow Valley. So, on Monday, instead of joining Route 20’s Labor Day parade, we decided to take a long-cut going home, and drove up McNeil Canyon to the Plateau to check out the Park. Given the name and location, it seemed likely to be some unusual collection of ‘haystack rocks’.

Boulder park, carpeted with glacial erratics
Boulder park, carpeted with glacial erratics
Perhaps the most spectacular assemblage of glacial erratics in North America, the  large boulders  were plowed out and deposited here by the Okanogan Lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. - Jim Nieland
Perhaps the most spectacular assemblage of glacial erratics in North America, the  large boulders  were plowed out and deposited here by the Okanogan Lobe of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet. - Jim Nieland

In the rest of the world these rocks would just be called ‘glacial erratics’ (as the captions did) but, on the Waterville Plateau, that’s not correct. There, they are properly called ‘haystack rocks’, and the distinction is important.

Both  kinds of rock are significantly out of place, moved from their place of origin to their present location by some force other than gravity. In fact, the means by which the two kinds reached their present locations are dramatically different from each other.

In addition, the rocks are mineralogically different. The composition of the ‘glacial erratics’ differs from the underlying bedrock where they’re found. In Coulee Country, they are usually granitic or metamorphic rocks that originated in Montana or Northern Idaho, but that were transported from there, from Glacial Lake Missoula, in icebergs, floating on the Missoula Floods.

Sometimes those rocks were just dropped. More often, their iceberg went aground and melted away ….. leaving the rocks stranded anywhere from Rathdrum Prairie (on the Idaho/Washington border) to the top of Steamboat Rock (in the Grand Coulee) to the Willamette Valley (in northwestern Oregon). Usually, they were deposited on basaltic bedrock (the Columbia River Basalt  that covers more than 60,000 square miles of Eastern Washington and the Columbia River Gorge).

Nick Zentner inspects glacial erratic in Wenatchee - Tom Foster photo
Nick Zentner inspects glacial erratic in Wenatchee - Tom Foster photo
Glacial erratics on Steamboat Rock -  Wikipedia
Glacial erratics on Steamboat Rock -  Wikipedia
Glacial  erratic near McMinnville, Oregon - Oregon State Parks photo
Glacial  erratic near McMinnville, Oregon - Oregon State Parks photo

Anywhere else that there have been rocks transported by ice, whether across the northern tier of the United States or around the world, those rocks are just called  glacial erratics, with no distinction made about the kind of rock. They’re ‘erratic’ because they’re out of place.

Glen Rock, New Jersey - an erratic town if there ever was one - NG photo
Glen Rock, New Jersey - an erratic town if there ever was one - NG photo
Norber erratic, UK, slate on limestone -  Ian Taylor photo (CC)
Norber erratic, UK, slate on limestone -  Ian Taylor photo (CC)
Okotoks erratic (world's largest) near Calgary, ALB - Canadian Tire photo
Okotoks erratic (world's largest) near Calgary, ALB - Canadian Tire photo

Glacial erratic is good enough for the rest of the world. Only here in the Pacific Northwest is there a distinction made.  But  then, only here did we have the Missoula Floods. ….. They are responsible for a lot, including NOT having transported our haystack rocks.    huh.gif

Haystack rocks in Boulder Park
Haystack rocks in Boulder Park

Those haystack rocks, on the Waterville Plateau, are exclusively basalt. They have been torn loose from the local, basaltic bedrock by the Okanogan Glacier, itself, and then transported relatively short distances (miles, or tens of miles …. rather than hundreds of miles) until the glacier stopped moving, and then eventually retreated. When that happened, the melting ice left behind all the debris it had been carrying, from sand and gravel to the haystacks.

Haystack wall, Boulder Park
Haystack wall, Boulder Park
Haystack fence in Boulder Park
Haystack fence in Boulder Park
Some of them even show up on Google earth
Some of them even show up on Google earth
Boulder Park as park, with just an ordinary scattering of haystacks
Boulder Park as park, with just an ordinary scattering of haystacks

There are lots of exceptions. The first pile of rocks I stopped at in Boulder Park included a couple of big, well-rounded granite boulders that seemed very out of place, mixed in with the basalt. To get eroded in that fashion, they must have been carried as bedload in a good-sized river, probably the Columbia.

But, the Columbia River never got this high on the Waterville Plateau. The Okanogan Glacier must have scooped up those boulders, when it pushed  across the Columbia Gorge, raised them 2000 feet, up to the top of the cliff at Bridgewater, and then carried them 10 miles south, to drop them where I found them, near the top of McNeil Canyon. ….. Pretty erratic!

Bedload boulders stacked around haystack rock
Bedload boulders stacked around haystack rock

Bedload boulders, delivered by the Okanogan Glacier to the top of the Waterville Plateau and dropped at the extreme southern edge of the ice, just south of Route 2. A farmer subsequently pulled them from his field and stacked them around an immovable haystack rock.


There are others. The Columbia River did sweep across a lower section of the Waterville Plateau, from Glacial Lake Columbia to the  head of Moses Coulee, and the Missoula Floods followed that route, leaving occasional, classic granite erratics stranded along the way. And, up in the Okanogan Valley, there are even places where the glacier has left basaltic blocks stranded on granite outcrops. ….. Those are called erratics.

Boulder Park skyline pan
Boulder Park skyline pan

Still, there are more than enough basalt rocks stranded on the basalt bedrock of the Waterville Plateau to justify the special name. Unfortunately, on this trip we only had a couple of hours on the Plateau ….. (something about having to get to Smallwood’s in time to buy pears).   rolleyes.gif   As a result, my photographic record is pretty anemic, so …….. wildernessed to the rescue!     

Two  years ago, wildernessed and Steve spent a Spring day thoroughly exploring the Boulder Park area (and discovering that it was even more extensive than it appeared on the map). Then, when they got back to Wenatchee, Rob prepared his usual, photographically rich trip report for nwhikers, ‘Boulder Park Area (Erratica)’ May 30, 2011 –

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7991227&highlight=boulder+park

Now, Rob has given me permission to reproduce some of his pictures, here, to help flesh out my report. In turn, that gives me a chance to change some of Rob’s captions from numbers to ‘Boulder Parks’, giving them a chance of being picked up as a resource on the net.    wink.gif

Boulder Park area map - wildernessed
Boulder Park area map - wildernessed
Boulder Park  05-30-11 wildernessed photo
Boulder Park  05-30-11 wildernessed photo
Boulder Park  05-30-11 - wildernessed photo
Boulder Park  05-30-11 - wildernessed photo
Boulder Park  05-30-11 - wildernessed photo
Boulder Park  05-30-11 - wildernessed photo
Boulder Park  05-30-11 wildernessed photo
Boulder Park  05-30-11 wildernessed photo

Thanks, Rob.     agree.gif    …..  But the story’s not quite over, because it began on the drive up McNeil Canyon, even before we got to Boulder Park.

Starting about halfway up, on the north slope of the canyon, there’s a display of haystack rocks that rivals anything in the Park, but it appears with no warning and no publicity. The result was that, by the time I realized I should stop and photograph it, we were into a belt of trees, and then on past where we could see it ….. and I made the mistake of not turning around.     irked.gif

That was unfortunate, because finding a substitute photograph proved to be very difficult, which was a little surprising. The McNeil Canyon Road is quite popular with bikers and motorcyclists, and there are quite a few pictures of the road on the net. But none of the dramatic surroundings ….. except one.

Haystacks from McNeil Canyon Road -  Duane Wright photo
Haystacks from McNeil Canyon Road -  Duane Wright photo

The haystack concentrations in Boulder Park and McNeil Canyon almost certainly had the same source,  but they could not have been deposited in quite the same way. They’re on opposite sides of the ridge that dominates the western edge of the Waterville Plateau.

Waterville Plateau's western ridge, 2800-3000.edtd - map by Mark Pullen
Waterville Plateau's western ridge, 2800-3000.edtd - map by Mark Pullen
2800-3000 topo 3D view S edtd - map by Mark Pullen
2800-3000 topo 3D view S edtd - map by Mark Pullen

Running from Dyer Hill in the north until it merges with the Beezley Hills in the south, the ridge is broken only by Corbaly Canyon (at Waterville) and the  Badger Mountain Watergap (now Moses Coulee). It was a controlling factor in the movement of the Okanogan Glacier, as can be seen in the line of the Withrow Moraine, which follows the 2800’ contour. In fact, Boulder Park is essentially the NNW end of the Withrow.  As such, the haystacks there were deposited there when Boulder Park became one of the glacier’s serial, terminal moraines.

Not so, the McNeil Canyon haystacks. They must have been carried in a rather strange tentacle of the main glacier. Instead of sliding through some pass, some low point in the ridge, it pushed over one of the highest points in that section of ridge.

1.1 Boulder Park and McNeil Canyon area edtd
1.1 Boulder Park and McNeil Canyon area edtd

In fact, this is the first stretch over 3000’ since the ridge began its long rise at the top of the Bridgeport cliff. Why the McNeil Arm should pick that point, I haven’t a  clue.     doh.gif

Strangely enough, there is one thing I’m fairly sure of: why the little glacier stopped halfway down the slope. ….. It ran into ice!

Navarre Coulee and McNeil Canyon
Navarre Coulee and McNeil Canyon

About the same time that wildernessed and Steve were exploring Boulder Park, Brent Cundulara of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (and President of the Wenatchee Erratics arm of the IAFI) was exploring over on the Lake Chelan side of the Columbia. There, at the crest of Navarre Coulee, 1700’ (extreme left of map), he found basalt boulders in the glacial till, which could have come only from the continental glacier.

That arm of the Okanogan Lobe had been pushing downstream in the Columbia Gorge since ‘construction’ started on the Okanogan Ice Dam. At Chelan, it was 600 feet above the level of the modern lake, 1000 feet above the level of the river, 1700 feet ABS in Navarre Coulee ….. and 1700 feet ABS in McNeil Canyon, too. Which is about the level of the lowest of those haystacks.

Obviously, a tongue of ice from the Okanogan Glacier on the Waterville Plateau had spilled over the ridge and down the slope, only to pile up on the surface of the Okanogan Glacier in the Columbia Gorge.  At which point, it apparently ran out of steam. It didn’t pile up much or it would have spread out across the surface. If it had, it would have left a bigger patch of glacial debris, when the ice melted.

Lake Chelan from McNeil Canyon - Panoramio
Lake Chelan from McNeil Canyon - Panoramio
Lake Chelan from McNeil Canyon - Flickr photo
Lake Chelan from McNeil Canyon - Flickr photo

Leaving Boulder Park, we headed south towards Waterville, following the line of the Withrow Moraine almost to the town of Withrow, before turning east across Dutch Henry Draw. Before that, though, I stopped to take one more picture, just for the sake of the picture.

Haystack rock as art
Haystack rock as art

Uncropped, unretouched, I don’t do that very often. ….. Mostly, I shoot for the record, taking hundreds of pics, assuming I’ll be able to sort out what I need, to tell a story. ....... It doesn't always work.        hmmm.gif

Going home. ? Headed west on Hardin Road (Road 4 NW), just north of Waterville
Going home. ? Headed west on Hardin Road (Road 4 NW), just north of Waterville


We made it to Smalllwood’s with an hour to spare. ….. The pears were marvelous.


If any of you are headed towards Chelan, the half hour sidetrip to Boulder Park is well worth it. But, if you go, please do me a favor. ….. Stop on your way up McNeil Canyon and take a few pictures of those danged haystack rocks!        embarassedlaugh.gif

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Something lost behind the ranges. Lost and waiting for you....... Go and find it. Go!
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