Mono Lake Pt. 2 – More Tufa Formations

On my trip I headed from the north shore of Mono Lake down to the visitor center and the south tufa area. The visitor center was great with lots of beautiful and informative displays, but I didn’t take pictures so that you can experience it for the first time when you visit.

p1120618

The lake was pretty low from the drought, but not as low as in the 1990’s when there was an agreement to restore some of its water (LA bought the water rights but the environmental impact was too great)

p1120619

Looking back at the park from the last post

p1120620

The south shore, filled with this salt-tolerant shrub that was blooming in these yellow flowers

p1120628

Some formerly underwater tufa formations, which come from mineral deposits that underground springs leave in the salty water here

p1120629

These all used to be under water, but now you can see them and walk amongst them

p1120630

Down at the shore, the intense salt pans prevent anything but this native grass from growing

p1120631

But despite its intense salinity, there is an abundance of life thanks to tiny brine shrimp and alkali flies that are here in the billions, you can see the hungry birds in the water

p1120632

Mostly gulls this time of year in early September, these are the ones you see on the coast, this is their nesting site

p1120636

There were so many flies it was overwhelming, but they always move out of your way

p1120638

But I managed to get this great close-up so you can see what these little guys look like

p1120642

They carpeted many areas

p1120644

This little piper or plover was ready to pounce

p1120647

Go little guy go!

p1120649

Here is one of those underground springs that create these deposits

p1120650

Up close you can see it flowing out in that clear water, but the red, mineral-loving bacteria feed off it

p1120652

A lone spire out in the lake

p1120653

This was an impressive tower, more like a castle

p1120657

More pretty

p1120658

Kind of like cave formations

p1120660

This is what the inside of one of the spires looks like, pretty much the same as the outside

p1120663

I want a bunch of miniature people to be living in this one

p1120667

Maybe some elves hiding in the nooks and crannies

p1120668

But I think this was the most impressive shot and tufa formation

p1120673

On the way out

p1120676

Looking north

p1120677

Some old volcanic features

p1120678

It looks like you’d want to go swimming there, but the water is really not nice, good for boating and kayaking though

p1120679

This one looked like coral

p1120684

Looking south, you can see cinder cones that rose within the last few hundred years. They have mined volcanic rock here for a long time, such as the ones you find in barbecue grills

p1120724

This is a very, very large chunk of obsidian outside the visitor center

p1120725

This is pumice, the same stuff as above but with lots of air bubbles

p1120726

Next up, further south to the hot springs and volcanism of the Mammoth Mountain area!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mono Lake – Alkaline Pretty

After heading south from Bridgeport on my trip late last summer, I arrived at Mono Lake, one of the largest lakes in California and a very unique ecosystem. We’ll get into the meat of the place in the next post, this one is mostly views from the north and west shores.

At the pullout to see the view I found this lovely butterfly on the side of the road

P1120565

The railing was so full of stickers I was astounded, each one is unique

P1120567

From west

P1120568

To east, the road down wasn’t fun

P1120569

There is a county park on the northwest shore

P1120570

It was really lovely and I had my lunch here

P1120578

Playgrounds and exercise areas along with lots of green grass

P1120581

And there is lake access along this path and boardwalk

P1120582

It transitions into the state park that covers various important areas

P1120583

Back before diversions of its water to LA, this lake was much higher, so much so that the shore is a few thousand feet out from here

P1120584

This used to all be water

P1120585

But the draining did reveal spectacular rock formations that rose from the springs that fed the lake while underwater

P1120586

I see a ship here in this one, what do you see?

P1120592

A little closer

P1120593

And even closer!

P1120594

Another formation

P1120595

The meadow here was pretty spectacular as well

P1120596

Filled with tiny flowers

P1120597

And these interesting water plants

P1120598

Closer to the shore, but there isn’t beach access here due to the wetlands

P1120600

Tons of birds were here, I felt a little silly trying to ID them based on the pictures and descriptions provided by the park

P1120604

This black mound was a former volcanic cinder cone, and the site of an earthquake fissure, love the colors in this shot

P1120605

Paoha Island reflected in the lake

P1120608

Heading further south

P1120609

Better view of Paoha

P1120612

And Negit Island, the smaller, darker cousin to Paoha

P1120613

Next time we’ll go into the visitor center and learn more about things like brine shrimp and flies.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bridgeport Continued

I’m awful on getting these up, sorry about that. I have another post lined up for sooner this time.

Anyway, I have some odds and ends from the next day of my trip to Bridgeport in the eastern sierras. Here we go…

P1120529

Such a cute town, here is the church

P1120530

And back to that historic and ornate courthouse

P1120532

A local museum had all kinds of cool stuff, this was made from the travertine deposits we saw in the last post, all polished up

P1120534

You can see the layers of minerals deposited in this cut-through

P1120536

It was really mesmerizing

P1120539

There was a room full of native american items, such as these arrowheads

P1120541

And grinding stones to process different food and materials

P1120542

Lots of baskets, they went from tiny to very large, depending on use

P1120544

These are local patterns here made by a woman in the 1920’s who knew of the old ways (according to several articles displayed)

P1120545

Washo are a neighboring tribe on the east side of the sierra

P1120546

They even had jugs to carry liquids

P1120547

 

P1120548

These beaded baskets were my favorite. I wonder if I can buy a modern re-creation somewhere

P1120550

Love the color and patterns

P1120551

Very interesting item

P1120553

A very large grinding rock in the park outside

P1120554

And then I was on my way south on 395 towards mono lake and mammoth mountain

P1120555

I think that is it in the background

P1120557

The early fall provided me with a treat, the aspens were turning their bright yellow, vibrant colors that so many come here for

P1120558

A grove that was still green becomes a spectacle in another month (october)

P1120561

And the view on the way into the basin for the lake, it was pretty steep getting down!

P1120568

Next time we’ll visit spectacular Mono Lake and its islands

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bridgeport and Travertine Hot Springs

Just after last Labor Day, I took a trip out to the eastern Sierra’s, but still in California. After getting over the crest, and down very steep slopes, I arrived at my first destination, Bridgeport.

P1120457

I actually stayed at this Inn, it is very historic

P1120458

Bridgeport is also the county seat of Mono, a sparsely populated, but obviously beautiful area on the Nevada border south of Tahoe

P1120459

This county courthouse is the oldest operating courthouse in California, a very important historical monument

P1120461

The architecture is eclectic but very ornate in areas

P1120462

 

P1120463

More info

P1120464

The old county jail was used until very recently, 1951

P1120468

Rather desolate place really

P1120472

 

P1120474

My main destination was here

P1120475

This is some of the drainage off the spring, showing the lack of trees

P1120479

Another view, the travertine is like that found in Italy, but much more rare on this continent. It was mined here for many years, you can see remnants around the area such as the cliff

P1120480

A dry pond, the drought was very apparent

P1120488

But some areas were bubbling with mud and algae

P1120490

This was the upper spring, heading downhill from the source to a pool

P1120491

Looks like they may re-cut the canal each year after the snows melt

P1120492

But this is a very old split, as shown by the depth and deposits on the sides

P1120496

The pool was nicely constructed but seemed gross due to a bit of algae and a lack of robust flow from the spring

P1120497

The water is so loaded with minerals that it created a shelf where it enters the pool

P1120498

With very mesmerizing deposits below

P1120499

The view from the ridge was fantastic, that is the back side of the Sierra Nevada, with the bridgeport valley in the foreground

P1120505

The main pools overlook this valley in a spectacular fashion

P1120506

Here it is coming out of the earth, forming this massive deposit

P1120507

As the water cascades down, it deposits the minerals in these formations, the green is algae thriving in the hottest environments

P1120508

This pool was a bit too hot, so everyone was further over where the water had cooled a bit

P1120513

The sunset was glorious

P1120516

It happened a little earlier than expected, due to the mountains

P1120517

But they did provide a wonderful display before getting very dark, very quickly

P1120525

Next up: Mono Lake and its wonderful geologic formations.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment