In Part 1, I traveled from Portland, OR, to Missoula, MT, and northwest to Sandpoint, ID, where our Ice Age Floods Tour picks up. These ancient floods profoundly shaped the landscape of the Pacific Northwest. As the last ice age was ending about 10,000 years ago, there were a series of super floods that originated in western Montana and southern Canada when huge ice dams collapsed. More than 100 such floods created the landscapes that I’m scramblin’ through.
From Sandpoint, the terrain began to transition from large ancient flood lakes to lands scoured to bedrock by the floodwaters. The Triumph Scrambler 1200 XE burbled to life in the crisp 45-degree morning and I headed southwest toward Spokane. I passed the last of the sawmills near Sandpoint and rode into the more open country along US 2. I stopped at Empire Cycles in Spokane to check out the Triumphs and Husqvarnas for sale. Leaving the traffic of Spokane, I turned south on Hwy 195 and rode to a high point on the Eastern Washington University campus in Cheney, located at the north end of the Palouse. This area was still covered by the Palouse loess soil as thick as 100 feet, but just to the southwest, the ice age floods transported much of the soil to the Willamette Valley in Oregon over 350 miles away.
This lovely remote landscape consists of farms, ranches, endless vistas, and quiet roads. Climbing up one grade, I spotted a car stopped in the middle of the road, and I asked if help was needed. Looking past the car revealed the reason for the stop as a herd of cows lumbered toward me on the road. It seemed like a good time to take a break anyway. As I was talking to the lady in the car, I explained the purpose of my trip. She became rather excited and said: “You must talk to my son, we have a big rock on our ranch from those floods.”