Another panorama taken from a 4×5 Fujicrhome transparency shot on my trip to the eastern Sierra. This view is from the north, looking down at the lake from the top of that volcanic upthrust where the fissures are that I mentioned in the previous post.
Mono Lake is like the Great Salt Lake in Utah or the Dead Sea in Israel – it has no natural drainage, so over time, the waters have become super alkaline with all the minerals that leach out of the rocks and soil around it. I wouldn’t drink it, and although you can swim in it if you’re so inclined, it’s not a pleasant feeling. The mineral content makes it such that it is easy to float on the surface – the ducks and other aquatic birds seem to float on top of the water, instead of in it. I have a few photos of the tufa formations for which the lake is famous that I’ll scan and post later. The tufas are formed when pure freshwater from underground springs enters the lake, causing the minerals in the water around it to sediment out and form hollow columns in fantastic shapes.
A few scenes from the high desert around Mono Lake. You’ll forgive my ignorance of desert flora and not naming the plants properly, but I’m an east coast city boy at heart, so I’m lucky I can tell an oak tree from a blade of grass. Well, not entirely true, but you get the point – a horticulturalist I’m not.
Thinking of horticulture, that reminds me of an old joke about Dorothy Parker – she was invited to speak at a meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary of the New York Botanical Gardens. Knowing of her penchant for a quick wit, one of the more naive members of the group asked her to use “horticulture” in a sentence. Her response? “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think”. For repeating the joke in this context, the quip is probably about me, but I have a good sense of humor about such things. More scrub brush on the top of the plateau:
These are taken in the scrublands atop the volcanic uplift plateau on the north edge of Mono Lake. For geology buffs, the plateau was uplifted perhaps 10 to 15,000 years ago in an event so rapid and violent it created fissures resembling miniature slot canyons. I went out in search of said fissures and hiked around on top of this plateau for perhaps two hours, looking for them, not finding any, all the while wary that I would miss one and inadvertently plummet down into one and get stuck. As it turns out, they’re on and near the leading edge of the plateau, and had I stuck to the edge, I would have found them perhaps fifteen minutes after ascending to the top of the plateau. But I had a lovely time all to my self, communing with the great open spaces, and I saw these scenes, so no great regrets.
I think I goofed the movements on the camera with this one, as there is some out of focus in the foreground that in retrospect really shouldn’t be there, but I’ll blame it on the altitude getting to me – I was fat and out of shape, and hiking at nearly 9000 feet of elevation with 30+ lbs of camera gear on my back.