I packed some food, clothes, hiking boots, and - this time I remembered to bring a camera. After work Saturday morning, I picked up my friend Redwood, and we headed east on I-90 toward Snoqualmie Pass. This was the same pass where Westly had run dry a few weeks earlier so I made sure the tank was topped off. The cloud cover was thinning as Westly charged up the grade. At Hyak, near the summit, several feet of snow still bordered the road. Keechelus Lake lay beside us, flat and gray until a late morning sun-break set it to sparkling. By the time we reached Cle Elum (a somewhat loose translation of the Kittitas Tribe word for "swift water") it was time to shut off the heat and watch for the Indian John Hill rest area.
|Finally feeling the warmth at Indian John Hill|
An very succinct video clip from Mikes Road Trip
Back on I-90, the terrain levels out into the Columbia Basin. Just past George (average annual rainfall just 8 inches), Hwy 283 cuts off in a North-Easterly direction, intersecting with Hwy 28 near Ephrata. Not far after, Hwy 17 heads North to our destination, Soap Lake.
View Larger Map
Soap Lake is located at the South end of the Coulee Corridor which was formed around 11,000 to 17,000 years ago by a series of floods that ended the last ice age. The floods eventually emptied glacial Lake Missoula, sending more than 500 cubic miles of water at an estimated 15 times the combined flow of all the rivers currently in the world. It rushed across parts of Washington, Idaho and Oregon carrying along billions of tons of earth and rock as it went. The Grand Coulee and Channeled Scablands of Washington, the Columbia River Gorge in Washington and Oregon and the Willamette Valley in Oregon are all the result of these floods.
The lake is unusual in that it a meromitric lake - two layers of differing mineral composition that have apparently not ever mixed. The Grand Coulee was a sort of highway for Native American tribes to access the Columbia river basin. They would camp and stash supplies in caves along the way, and they valued the water and mud of Soap Lake for it's medicinal properties. They referred to the lake as Smokiam which means "Healing Waters".
|Downtown Soap Lake|
No traffic signals
|How groovy would this be??|
Update: 04/28 - Now the Yakama Nation, having been defined by an 1855 treaty as the indigenous people of the Soap Lake area have requested that the name be changed to Cheem-Ti-Wa-Tum (no translation given) which is what their elders called it.
The following poem is from the back of the Don's Restaurant "Dining With A Western Flavor" menu:
There is healing in the waters and the sunlight - by the lake,
Here your ailments and disorders could dissolve without mistake.
You must try this awesome wonder if you ail and might be cured...
'Tis a miracle of nature...half-again plus all you've heard.
In the past our redskin brothers met beside Smokiams's shore,
And they bathed here and they healed here...this was in the days of yore.
Never man was offered bounty like this spa in desert sun,
Ultra-violet shines upon you, breezes cool - when day is done.
You must come to see the wonder of this mineral water spa,
And the truths you'll see around you all are part of nature's law.
Mineral water is our treasure, come and sample if you'd care,
You may find that life awaits you...you may find your answered prayer!
By Joyce E. Conklin, November, 1981
|Shelter from the wind|
|Art in Soap Lake City Park|
|Remember when playgrounds had swings and a merry go round?|
At Soap Lake, they still do
|Redwood prepares for the trek|
We set off on what turned out to be a close to 12 mile hike up canyons, through draws, across mesas, past long abandoned homesteads, and finally to the petroglyph rock.
|On the trail|
|A busy bumble bee shares a flower with a tiny spider|
Click to enlarge
|Cistern at an old homestead|
|The petroglyph rock|
|Mock Orange in bloom framed by a cave|
|Fine dining in Soap Lake|
The sign must have been neon at one time...
|Soap Lake House|
|Canna Street South|
|Soap Lake house made of basalt rocks|
|Making camp in the afterglow|
Below - Westly moves it. Thanks Redwood for putting this video together
Redwood also sent me these images he created on the trip:
|Westly in the Wild Horse Monument parking lot|
|Found on the curb behind Westly|
|Sunday Morning calm at Lake Smokiam|
|Prepared for rough riding|