Sunday, October 25, 2015

October 25, 2015

We spent some time on a much different lake last week, Lake Powell, in Arizona and Utah.

Lake Powell from Wahweap Point, Arizona
This lake is 168 miles long, though much of it is winding canyons once you get a few miles from the Glen Canyon dam which holds back all that water.

Navajo Canyon

Jet skiers and fishermen love the narrow canyons

Glen Canyon Dam, the third highest dam in the country
Just below the Glen Canyon dam is one the most impressive sights on the Colorado River, as the river has worked for millions of years to carve out a huge horse shoe right through the rock.
Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona

Lake Wicwas may have some concerns with indigenous plants and animals, but nothing like what the Glen Canyon dam has created.  It devastated the indigenous plants and animals both above and below the dam, and has allowed non-native species to totally take over.  Carp and stripped bass are plentiful in the lake now.

I was surprised to learn that even below the dam the river was altered, as the lack of silt flowing in the river (the lake catches it all) allows more light to penetrate the water, letting algae and other plants flourish, creating the green water below the dam.
A river tour stop below the dam
But about 12 miles downstream a major tributary, the Paria River, joins the Colorado.  We were there right after a good thunderstorm, so the Paria was full of red silt, and at the confluence just below Lee's Ferry, we saw a two color river - red on the west side, green on the east side, though it's hard to see in these pictures.
The confluence of the Paria and Colorado River
Colorado water on the left, Paria water on the right

A few miles farther downstream, at Navajo Bridge, the mixing was nearly complete, and the Colorado had returned to the color that that gives the river its name.

The Colorado River at Navajo Bridge, Marble Canyon, Utah

Final mixing of the two Rivers
The river may look like this until it reaches Lake Mead, behind the Hoover dam where the silt will settle out again.  Of course, with all the water being extracted, the Colorado River doesn't make it to the ocean anymore before it dries up.  Imagine what that has done to the habitat farther south.  However, they are working on restoring indigenous fish populations, and are looking at renegotiating the water contracts to allocate more water to the country of Mexico.

And what would a Lake Wicwas blog be without at least one wildlife shot (real wildlife, not invasive fishes!) and a look at the lake in peak foliage season!
Plateau Fence Lizard (Sceloporus tristichus) at the rim of the Colorado River
Lake Wicwas in its fall colors - photo by Marge Thorpe

No comments:

Post a Comment