Photo by Joanna Bastian View of Pipestone Canyon from the Rim Trail. Pipestone Canyon was carved initially by glacial meltwater. Later, the Methow Indians carved  stone from the canyon into pipes and bowls.

Photo by Joanna Bastian
View of Pipestone Canyon from the Rim Trail. Pipestone Canyon was carved initially by glacial meltwater. Later, the Methow Indians carved  stone from the canyon into pipes and bowls.

By Joanna Bastian

Ever wonder how the Methow Valley was formed?

I am constantly in awe of the beauty of this valley, how the shifting light of morning illuminates the variance in topography, how a rainstorm in the distance cuts a path through a maze of hills and valleys before crashing into the rocky crags of a high mountain peak.

When the warmth of spring melts back the winter snows, I wonder at the sheer number of flowers that bloom, all in different hues and scents: the lupine, balsamroot, Indian paintbrush, wild rose, shooting stars, buttercups, blue bells, and a myriad more whose names I can never remember.

The Methow Valley is geographically young, compared to other areas in the United States. It still bears the recent scars of formation by plate tectonics and glaciers. The Methow Valley is also anthropologically young, as one of the last areas in the country to be settled.

Next Wednesday (June 1), from 7 – 8 p.m. at Sun Mountain Lodge, I will be exploring the formation of the Methow Valley: going all the way back to early beginnings, and how different cultures carved a way of life in this scenic paradise.

I’ll be sharing excerpts from a diary of early fur trappers, early interviews with Indians and settlers, and archaeological evidence left by the first people who lived here 10,000 years ago. I’ll also share some of the experiences I’ve had while writing for the Methow Valley News.

It’s totally free, and I promise to make it entertaining. Where else can you get tectonic plates, glaciers, First People, salmon, fur trappers, European explorers, miners, China Ditch, orchardists, fire and floods all in one hour? Which reminds me of a T-shirt I recently saw in support of keeping the Three Devils Road open: “Because Hell and High Water Do Happen.”

The history presentation was the idea of my boss, Dr. Tom McCord, director of the Bear Fight Institute in Winthrop. The Bear Fight Institute conducts research for space missions, including the Dawn Space Mission, a NASA Discovery Program. Members of the Dawn team will visit the Methow Valley next week for their annual team meeting. As part of the evening’s entertainment, I will be talking about the history of the Methow Valley on June 1. Everyone is welcome to join us.

The following night, Thursday, June 2, from 7 – 8 p.m. at Sun Mountain Lodge, McCord and Dr. Marc Rayman, director and chief engineer of the Dawn Mission, will hold a public presentation about the Dawn Mission and its orbit around Vesta and Ceres, protoplanets from the beginning of the solar system. The presentation will be informative and entertaining, geared towards the general public. It is a perfect opportunity to learn more about our solar system and will offer a chance for budding scientists to ask questions of professionals in the field.

PREVIOUSLY IN LOWER VALLEY

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