CATACLYSMIC NATURE EXCURSION
Very briefly stated, this excursion follows much of the path of the great glacial floods of the last ice age, 15-17,000 years ago. Geologic evidence of these floods is still very prominent today as it shaped much of eastern Washington state. A word of caution, this is a long flight, 6.5 hr. or so if we leave from Libby, 7.5 if we leave from Missoula so we are looking at a 10-12 hr day with breaks, fuel & lunch stops. Also, this flight will be appreciated the most by those of you with an interest in geologic events.
We'll follow the initial path and see the impacts of the gargantuan glacial floods in western Montana and eastern Washington. These floods of nearly Biblical proportions resulted from the repeated formation of huge glacial lakes in Montana and Washington and subsequent near instantaneous destruction of the glacial ice dams containing these lakes.
If we start in Missoula (a regional jetport) you can see the old shorelines of Glacial Lake Missoula far above the valley floor. You will see the location of the massive ice dam and we will be flying at water level of Glacial Lake Missoula, nearly 2000' above ground level! You'll see the Grand Coulee (and it's namesake dam), you'll see a gigantic lattice work of channels that ripped through the lava bed of eastern Washington, the Dry Falls which geologists believe to have had a greater peak flow than all of the world's rivers combined. You'll see the Giant Ripples, pictured above/right (photo taken app. 1000' above ground level) that formed just like ripples in any creek today. Except this "creek" was 500' deep and flowing about 60 mph!
I know I've used more superlatives in the last two paragraphs than you're used to hearing in a week, but this truly was a magnificently powerful and destructive event that totally changed the face of eastern Washington - one that not even 15,000 years could hide! It is so massive that it is hard to comprehend from the ground. Click here for a brief description of this event.
Then we'll continue on for an up close and personal aerial view of the massive destruction resulting from the explosion of Mt. Saint Helens in 1980, and which is still abundantly clear today!
The blast ripped the countryside for 8 miles to the northeast of the mountain. It eliminated all vegetation within the blast zone and deposited debris from the mountain hundreds of feet deep near the mountain, filled Spirit Lake, and raised the water level about 150' from it's previous level.
But now we have to make a decision! Do we land at Kelso Wa, rent a car & spend the night then take a day long tour of the Mt. Saint Helens Monument (you will be amazed at the destructiveness of this event) or simply fly back to our point of departure at a higher altitude so we can get a better "birds eye view" of the massive glacial flood channels. Another option is to drop you off at Kelso, Wa, (a great jumping off point for your own exploration of the St. Helens Monument) or somewhere else for that matter. Each will have a different price point.
Mt. Rainier is over 14,400' tall, is the most glaciated mountain in the lower 48 states, and is the 4th tallest. But since it's only 30' shorter than the tallest mountain (Mt. Elbert in Colorado) it is certainly no "shrinking flower". The photo to the right clearly shows the massive glaciers coursing down Rainier's slopes!
Excursion Costs - based on Missoula departure(Libby departure would be $200-$450 less)
Complete excursion - Fly through Eastern Washington, 2 nights at Kelso with Day trip to Mt. St Helens, then Return to Missoula - $4,150
Variation #1 - Fly through Eastern Washington including Mt. Rainier & Mt. St Helens with drop off at Kelso. Enterprise will bring a rental car to the airport and you are on you own. - $2,300
Variation #2 - Fly eastern Washington, including the 2 mountains and return to Missoula. This will be a long day in the air, 7-7.5 hours, with a lunch stop and at least one other rest stop. - $2,300
Other variations? - call for pricing.