Cache consists of a clear Rubbermaid container with logbook, pencil, pencil sharpener, standard cover sheet, and flyers of the Ice-Age Floods Institute (IAFI). The IAFI is a non-profit organization devoted to informing and educating the public about these unique geologic events that shaped the Pacific Northwest as recently as 13,000 years ago. See www.iceagefloodsinstitute.org, for more information.
Cache Elevation = 1330 ft
General Directions: From SR 28, drive 1 mile south on Road U NW, and then 2 miles west on Road 9 NW. Park at a pull off at the base of the long hill, where road flattens out onto Babcock Bench.
West Bar Overlook
From the West Bar Overlook geocache is one of the best views anywhere of giant current ripples left behind by cataclysmic Ice-Age floods. The route to the geocache crosses over a rocky flat called Babcock Bench. Babcock Bench is an elevated, flood-swept rocky terrace that can be traced along the east side of the Columbia River all the way to Vantage, 20 miles to the south. Most of Babcock Bench is composed of the more flood-resistant top of the Grand Ronde Basalt Formation. Floodwaters plucked away and transported the overlying, more easily eroded Wanapum Basalt Formation along the bench.
From the geocache, at the edge of Babcock Bench, is a wonderful view looking down onto West Bar, which is blanketed with one of the most classic examples of giant current ripples. (Take care walking along the edge of the bench. In places its an almost vertical, 750-ft drop to the river below.) The orientation of the giant current ripples indicates they formed from an Ice-Age flood restricted to the Columbia River Valley (i.e., from the north) at the end of the last glacial cycle, probably between 12,000 and 13,000 years ago. The ripples average 24 feet in height and are 360 feet apart and composed of boulders up to 4.5 feet in diameter. The ripples currently lie a full 150 to 250 feet above river level. Based on ripple size and spacing, geologists have estimated the floodwaters were about 650 feet deep when the ripples formed. That means the flood the created the West Bar megaripples must have rose to at least the height of Babcock Bench, where the geocache is located.
Other Ice-Age floods coming down the Channeled Scabland, filled the Quincy Basin and spilled over Babcock and Evergreen Ridges from the east before plunging into the Columbia River valley. These floods carved Potholes Coulee and Frenchman Coulee, two of the most spectacular flood coulees anywhere along the flood's route. The height of the largest scabland flood must have been at least 1425 ft elevation, based on a high spillover channel cut across Babcock Ridge that lies just southeast of the cache site.
To experience more incredible features left behind by the Ice-Age floods try finding these other geocaches placed by geologist Bruce Bjornstad:
Upper Goose Lake
Frenchman Coulee Rib
Rattlesnake Slope Erratics
Saddle Mountains Overlook (Earthcache)
Wallula Gap Overlook
Lake Sacajawea Flood Bar