A Landing a Day

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Wind River Range, Wyoming

Posted by graywacke on July 17, 2015

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Landing number 2197; A Landing A Day blog post number 625.

Dan:  My Score is climbing higher over 150, thanks to my third OSer in a row . . . WY; 77/70; 4/10; 2; 150.9. 

My regional landing map:

 landing 1

My local landing map:

 landing 2

You can see a few towns (which I checked out for hooks).  But as is obvious by the title of this post, I decided to forgo civilization for this post.  On to my watershed analysis . . .

As you can see on the above map, I landed right next to the Green River (34th hit).  But just for the record, here’s a streams-only map:

 landing 3a

As I’m sure you know, the Green discharges into the Colorado (172nd hit).  If you don’t know that, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Here’s my Google Earth (GE) trip in.  I’m having trouble posting to You Tube, but you can just click on the link and then hit the back arrow after you’ve watched it.  Be sure to pay attention to the mountain range to the east of my landing.  Of course, that’s the Wind River Range.



In case you missed it on the way in, here’s a static shot of the Winds (as those of us in the know call the Wind River Range):

 GE 3 overview of the range

And here’s a GE shot looking east towards the Winds past my landing:

GE 1

Staying with GE, you can see that I landed in a “neighborhood” with five houses, built on a road that has its own bridge over the Green River (the one southeast of my landing is hard to see, and there’s another even further to the southeast, out of this picture):

 GE 4

Hard to imagine that five folks got together and paid for a bridge over a river!  Harder still to imagine the government building such a private bridge.  Unfortunately, there’s no StreetView coverage . . .

The house closest to my landing is the one to the southeast.  Here’s a close-up:

 GE 5

I wonder if those folks noticed the big yellow push-pin in their driveway . . .

Here’s a GE map showing StreetView coverage of the bridge over the Green River that’s closest to my landing:

 GE orange dude for river

Here’s what the orange dude sees (with the Winds in the background):

 GE SV river

Anyway, I’m going back to watersheds for a bit, because as I was looking into the Winds, I came across the fact that a significant watershed triple point  is present on Three Waters Mountain (catchy name).  So I rolled up my sleeves, and looked a little more closely at the streams-only StreetAtlas map.  Here’s what I found:

 lanlding 3c triple point

Very cool!  And here’s a Google Earth shot showing the location of Three Waters Mountain:

 GE 2 3 waters mountain

So there is a spot on the top of the Three Waters Mountain where a guy could stand and answer the call of nature, spinning all the while (making it temporarily Four Waters Mountain).  And yes, a third of the water would end up in the Columbia, flowing past Portland, Oregon on its way to the Pacific Ocean.  And yes, a third of the water would end up in the Missouri/Mississippi River, flowing past New Orleans on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  And yes, a third of the water would end up in the Colorado, flowing through the Grand Canyon and desperately attempting to make it past all of the water withdrawal points to make its way to the Gulf of California.

I love triple points, and have featured four in previous ALAD posts, but none as significant as this one.

I found a blog post (“Three Waters Mountain, Wyoming” on USends.com) about climbing the mountain and searching for the triple point.  The author points out that the top of the mountain is very flat and a couple of miles across, so finding the actual point is challenging. 

Here’s a picture from the post (with a few words thrown in):

 us ends

See the thin pole at an angle in the distance?  That supposedly marks the triple point.  Here’s a close-up:

 us ends 2


Click HERE to check out the post.

So what about the Wind River Range?  I wasn’t aware of its majesty.  This, from Wiki:

The Wind River Range (or “Winds” for short), is a mountain range of the Rocky Mountains in western Wyoming. The range runs roughly NW-SE for approximately 100 miles. The Continental Divide follows the crest of the range and includes Gannett Peak, which at 13,804 feet, is the highest peak in Wyoming. There are more than 40 other named peaks in excess of 13,000 feet. With the exception of the Grand Teton in the Teton Range, the next 19 highest peaks in Wyoming after Gannett are also in the Winds.

Here’s a GE shot looking west past Gannett Peak towards my landing:

 GE 6

Here’s a broad geologic overview from Wiki:

The Winds are composed primarily of a granitic batholith which is granite rock formed deep under the surface of the Earth, over one billion years ago. Over hundreds of millions of years, rocks that were once covering this batholith eroded away. As the land continued to rise during the Laramide orogeny, further erosion occurred until all that remained were the granitic rocks.  The ice ages beginning 500,000 years ago began carving the rocks into their present shapes.

I see at least two items that need to be addressed. First, “granitic batholith.”  We all know what happens when liquid magma from deep with the earth’s crust makes its way to the surface – we have a volcano.  But when liquid magma rises just far enough in the crust to begin cooling (and goes no further), this is a batholith.  Because it’s so deep (let’s say 15 – 20 miles down as an average), it cools very slowly.  And because it cools very slowly, it allows readily-visible mineral crystals to form.  The classic pinkish granite typically has quartz crystals (gray), feldspar crystals (mostly pink orthoclase but maybe some white plagioclase), and black crystals (mostly biotite mica, and maybe some amphibole or hornblende).

I happen to have a piece of granite at my desk, lifted from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine (I’m sure illegally).  What the heck, here’s a picture:


 So we had this massive granite batholith that was uplifted during the Laramide Orogeny. The word “orogeny” comes from the Greek oros for “mountain,” and genesis for “origin.”  So an orogeny is a mountain-building episode.  The Laramide Orogeny is what pushed up the Rocky Mountains.  How did that happen?

As is typical, most geologic action happens at the boundaries of tectonic plates.  Addressed several times in this blog is the classic subduction zone, where oceanic crust plunges below continental crust, with the friction at depth melting the rock, causing magma chambers that provide the fuel for volcanoes (just like the Cascades). 

It looks like this (from the USGS):


Another type of plate collision is continent – continent, which is how the Himalayan Mountains were (and are being) built – as the Indian Plate collides with the Asian Plate, causing a massive uplift.  This collision is the cause of the recent Nepal earthquakes.

From GeologyClass.org:

 geology class.org

And then we have the Laramide.  This is an oceanic / continental collision (which went on in various pulses over a 30 million year period, roughly 40 million to 70 million years ago), but it didn’t form a string of volcanoes like described above.  That’s because this ocean / continent collision was different.  In this case, the oceanic crust did not plunge as deeply under the continental crust.  Here’s a Wiki graphic (by Melanie Moreno):


As the oceanic plate proceeded, it pushed / pulled / uplifted the continental crust, but with little magma formation.  From Wiki:

Geologists call such a lack of volcanic activity near a subduction zone a magmatic null. This particular null may have occurred because the subducted slab was in contact with relatively cool continental lithosphere, not hotter asthenosphere.  One result of shallow angle of subduction and the drag that it caused was a broad belt of mountains; i.e., the progenitor of the Rocky Mountains.

The “push / pull” aspect of the collision caused the creation of massive fault blocks, with some blocks uplifted relative to adjacent blocks.  One such uplifted block formed the Wind River Range.

Enough geology?  I thought so.  Time for some GE Pano pictures close to my landing.  Of course, there are hundreds of Pano photos of the mountains, so I’m going to stay very local to my landing.

I’ll start six miles east of my landing, on top of Salt Lick Mountain (still west of the highest peaks).  WyoWanderer1967 took two shots, one looking east and the other looking west.  First, looking east towards the crest of the Winds:

 pano wyowandere1967 salt lick mtn looking east

And then west towards across the Green River valley with the Gros Ventre Mountains in the background (I think that my landing location is to the left hidden by the mountain):

 pano wyowandere1967 salt lick mtn looking west

Even though this is far from my landing (about 25 miles), I’ll throw in this great shot by Ralph Maughan of the crest of the Gros Ventres:

 ralph maughand over 20 mi NW

As I always mention, Ralph is a regular contributor to ALAD, although I doubt he knows it.  And here come some more Ralph shots.  First this, from a mere 1.5 miles north of my landing, looking across the Green R. towards the mountains:

 pano ralph maughan 1.5 mi n

Here’s a mountain meadow by Ralph shot from just 2 miles east of my landing:

 pano ralph maughanb  2 mi e

One more from Mr. Maughan – a lovely shot from the hills 4.5 miles northwest of my landing, looking east at the sunset-lit mountains:

 pano ralph maughanc 4.5 mi nw

But the honor of closing out the post goes to Bob R Photo.  Here’s Bob’s shot of the Green River about 2.5 miles north of my landing:

 pano Bob R Photo 2.5 mi n

That’ll do it . . .




© 2015 A Landing A Day




One Response to “Wind River Range, Wyoming”

  1. You have to pass through this range (as far as I remember), en route to Yellowstone National Park from Denver. There’s not much out that way (I’m sure that yellow pin to the hit the driveway was the biggest thing to happen there in quite some time…)

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