Earthquake Lake - Part OneI don't know how things work for you, but I have this terrible habit of exploring everything but my own 'backyard'. Of course I have amended this in many ways while living at Elk Lake. In fact, I know as much of my backyard as can be reached on foot from the lodge quite well.
However, in Montana 'backyard' is often defined on a much larger scale. In fact, when you realize we consider folks in Island Park, Idaho and West Yellowstone, Montana and even Dillon and Ennis, Montana "neighbors", well, maybe the idea is coming clear.
So, in keeping with my amended ways, I have spent a bit more time exploring my more extended backyard. In recent posts I have shared trips to Virginia City and Nevada City (just over the hill from Ennis and a workable day-trip from Elk Lake). I have shared our excursion on Lower Red Rock Lake (I shared an adventure on Upper Lake months ago). And, while I cannot see Virginia City and Nevada City from Elk Lake, I can see Upper and Lower Lakes and Earthquake Lake (known around here as Quake Lake) from a nearby high point. This, alone, makes them seem closer to home.
Thus late this summer I stopped by the Earthquake Lake Visitor Center and took a look around. Having driven past several times in the past, I was surprised at how much I had missed. Not only does the Visitor Center offer a plethera of information, the auto tour along 287 and the walking tour at the Visitor Center offer much to enlighten those who slow down and look.
Imagine you are carrying a flat pan of water across your kitchen. Just before you reach the sink, you bump your elbow. What happens to the water in your pan is exactly what happened (on a much grander scale) to the water in Hebgen Lake. In some places the ground dropped 20 feet. The shifting ground created tidal waves which surged over Hebgen Dam and overcame anything within their reach. It took at least 12 hours for the waves to subside. Thankfully the dam held.
But, the earthquake not only caused the lake's bottom to drop, it also tilted the land under the lake. Back to our pan of water illustration, not only did you bump your elbow, but in reaction to the pain, you raised one side of the pan. Hebgen Lake's north shore raised 19 feet! So much for lakefront property!
In my next post I will share more photos and information from my explorations around this dramatic natural disaster which nature has again returned to an amazingly beautiful, tranquil setting.
I find it hard to believe this is just another one of the things I find in my big backyard!
Lady of the Lake