Monday, July 21, 2008

en route to Yosemite--Part I: sunset at Mono Lake

On a drive north of the California desert...

On a road trip a few years back, on the way to Yosemite, we drove up scenic Highway 395 that has an awesome view of the Sierras. We stayed a few nights in Lee Vining near Mammoth Lakes and Mono Lake, an alkaline and hypersaline lake and an important ecosystem for migratory birds. One evening we hiked down to the lake and enjoyed an amazing sunset.

The bizarre rock formations that grow out of Mono Lake are called tufa towers--calcium-carbonate spires and knobs created when freshwater springs meet the alkaline lake water.

In 1941, water from the Owens River was diverted to feed the growing city of Los Angeles. Because of that, water levels at Mono Lake have been precipitously low for years. Recently, due to the effort of lobbying groups, the water level is rising though the lake is not at its full capacity. We saw a lot of tee-shirts that said "Save Mono Lake." A great cause, indeed.

(Mono Lake, July 2006, the Sierras in the background)

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