Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Continental Divide

Recently I went for a drive just west of here on a secondary road that goes from near Anaconda over a pass in the Anaconda-Pintlar mountain range to the Big Hole river. The same area that I did a post about catching brookies for breakfast.

At the top of the pass a series of small springs in the mountainside form a series of beaver dams.






At this point the road above and these ponds is pointed north and south. At both ends of the series of beaver dams the ponds drain, forming small creeks. The one that flows north goes perhaps 15 miles becoming Warm Springs creek along the way.





It empties into the Clark Fork of the Columbia, then flows west and north.





Perhaps 300 miles later it joins the main stem of the Columbia.





Along the way it goes through a series of dams, mostly hydro-electric. The dams are the source of most electricity in this part of the country. If I were more poetic I'd say the water from those beaver dams are powering my laptop. Eventually the Columbia joins the Pacific at Astoria



Back to the beaver dams.....the water flowing south goes through a lovely valley, becoming larger along the way thanks to other springs and small creeks.





It joins the Big Hole river and flows generally east and south.





The Big Hole is joined by other rivers and creeks, the Beaverhead and others. These flow into the Jefferson, continuing it's journey east.





The Jefferson after many miles eventually joins the Missouri.





The Missouri at this point is crystal-clear most of the time, with some very large trout. The river wends it's way across the nation, going east and south. Along it's hundreds and hundreds of miles water is taken out for agri-business large farms, and receives water from many other rivers. Eventually it reaches St. Louis.




As you know the Missouri joins the Mississippi, and eventually the water, or at least a few drops of it, hears the music of New Orleans before it goes out into the Gulf, past the oil rigs.



All from here, east and west:


14 comments:

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    1. Hope you and the new husband are well.

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  2. That is spectacular. Although, at the mention of human-made dams, I found myself possessed of Edward Abbey thoughts.

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    1. I think the Columbia, along it's length (in the US, not sure) has less than 25 free flowing sections. They are quite famous, The Hanford Reach, I think it's called. The rest, the near 1900 miles of 'river', are actually reservoirs, rather than rivers.
      I remember, maybe '56 or so, my dad took me to Celieo falls, on the Columbia. He knew a couple of the Native Americans, we slept there the night, over the falls.
      Compared to the river Cactus Ed went on about, it's a pauper compared to the Columbia's damns. 11, as I remember, in WA.

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  3. Gorgeous country and a fascinating geographical tour. Looks like terrific hiking country.

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    1. It is and it was, Tom. Many miles along it's trails, here up to BC and beyond. It's still out there, for those who can.

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  4. I have been on many Continental divides (I remember on the Appalachian Trail, a group of us taking a leak, some watering the Tennessee (and later the Mississippi and on to the gulf) River and others rivers that run to the Atlantic. Good post!

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    1. Yeah, another continental divide, not often thought of. hope you're doing well down there.

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  5. When I worked in Bismarck, which was separated by the Missouri, from Mandan, we used to occasionally have an adventurer stop off who was canoeing or rafting the river as far as he could go. BTW, during my bar-hopping days in Bismarck it was on Central Standard Time while Mandan was on Mountain Standard. That called for some quick trips across the big bridge when one town's bars closed and the others were still open for another hour. Ah, my misspent youth.

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    1. Sounds like adaptation by callous youth.

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  6. Cannot find your email in my inbox for some reason.... Email me and tell me all about Independence day's mr pullman!

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  7. I've read this post more than once and, each time, get a very peaceful feeling --something about the little beaver dams giving on to tremendous waterways, something metaphorical. There's a pattern of motion, utility and gravitation at work that has no perceptible end.

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    1. I"m sure, if the technology were there, we could follow the molecules of the water from the beaver dams north and south, and find they meet again, on the far side of the earth.
      I'm starting to think it might be a fine place for my ashes.....half placed in water flowing each direction. I'd be a true (past) global man.

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