Thursday, July 31, 2014
Summer Trips - Lake Lenore Caves - And We Have A Winner!!!!
We took a little trip recently over to Lake Lenore Caves, about 55 miles from our home in Odessa. The caves are situated in the Lower Grand Coulee. The Grand Coulee is a canyon that stretches from Grand Coulee Dam, south, to Soap Lake, WA. Entering from the south end, Lake Lenore Caves State Park is about 10 miles up into the coulee. You can find the map, below, at Metatropo. Metatropo also gives an overview of the hike and GPS.
From the parking lot at the park, looking south, you can see the north end of Lake Lenore. Lake Lenore is a highly alkaline lake where only one kind of game fish (Lahontan Cutthroat Trout) can be found. You can fly fish there througout the season. The lake is long and narrow and very pretty. To the south of it is Soap Lake, which is even more mineralized, supposedly with medicinal qualities.On the banks of Soap Lake is the town of the same name. Lovely spot.
Just on the way into the park is a small lake called Alkali Lake.
From the Washington Trails Association (WTA) site - Lake Lenore Caves were formed 12,000 years ago when the area was flooded by melting ice. The caves were used by native tribes thousands of years ago for shelter. Today, visitors may view petroglyphs inside the caves. Seven caves are accessible by the maintained trail.
Looking up toward the caves, a trail leads away from the parking area. It's a pretty steep walk and the trail is a little rough, though paved, sort of. Not a hike for invalids, but okay for seniors in good physical condition, on a cool day.
More from the WTA site - Prairie falcons nest in the sheer cliffs of the Grand Coulee, and this route brings you close to them. Watch the majestic raptors soar over the coulees as they hunt for birds, small mammals, and reptiles--yes, there are reptiles aplenty here. Rattlesnakes, rubber boas, and bull snakes can all be found in the vicinity. Be especially alert as you near the cave entrances as the snakes frequently use the cool cave environments to help regulate their body temperatures in the heat of summer.
Looking across the coulee, the western side is steep with cliffs and miles of basalt shale. The west side drops almost straight down into the coulee while, on the east, the sides are often broken, open and less precipitous.
And a last little bit from the WTA site - The well-marked trail from the parking area leads to the series of caves, but while the caves are the primary draw to the area, don't forget to pay attention to what's outside them. In addition to the birds and other animals, enjoy the flora of the area. Look for desert shooting stars, which are thick along the trail. Also in evidence are nine-leaf desert parsley and fern-leaf desert parsley.
Some of the caves can be seen from the parking area.
You can see how one might be able to climb along the wall horizontally here and there, if one were something akin to a mountain goat.
From inside one of the larger caves. This photo is by Susan Elderkin.
You can read more about Lake Lenore Caves.....
by Alan L. Bauer & Dan A. Nelson (The Mountaineers Books)
Prime hiking for fall, winter, and spring; organized by quick access from Spokane, the TriCities and other Washington places. You can buy this book from Amazon.
You can read more at Trails.com.
And, Ta-Da, our winner! Susan, AKA, Suze!
She won our drawing
for a free pattern of her choice from Prairie Cottage