When Mr. Misadventures and I made our side trip to Bodie, our main destination was Mono Lake. The only thing I had ever remembered about Mono Lake was “Save Mono Lake” bumper stickers on station wagons that I probably saw while visiting California to see my grandparents when I was younger. I guess the bumper stickers worked because in 1983 the Mono Lake Committee and the National Audobon Society won their Supreme Court case against Los Angeles (who had diverted the water from the lake to LA counties) forever protecting this region.
I learned about all this after I arrived. And having visited this uniquely beautiful spot, I can see why it was important to do so. It is unlike any other place I have seen thus far. I am not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t this:
These rock formations are called Tufa towers which form in a variety of ways at Mono Lake. The most visible formations are the towers on the lake’s shoreline. The largest concentration of the tufa towers is located at the South Tufa grove just off of Hwy 120 East, at the south end of Mono Lake which is exactly where we stopped. For a place that was kind of desolate and unfriendly, the colors were gorgeous.
This one was fun too.
We were on a reconnaissance mission for the next morning. The plan was to take photos at sunrise (yes, again….) We walked around a bit and took a few more photos and then drove another 30 minutes down the road to Mammoth to stay the night. Mammoth is a ski resort that a lot of people from Los Angeles use. It is less practical for people from the San Francisco Bay Area as the pass we used to get to Bodie and Mono Lake is closed at the first snow so you really have to want to drive a lot of extra miles to go here. For most Bay Area folks, Lake Tahoe is just far more convenient.
Nonetheless, Mammoth is beautiful in the summer as well and we enjoyed a wonderful picnic dinner in our hotel room with a view of the mountains.
The next morning at 4:00 a.m. (ugh, don’t even get me started….) we headed to Mono Lake for the sunrise. We arrived before that happened and made our way out to the spot the Mr. Misadventures had scoped out the day before. And while he set up his two cameras and tripods, etc. I entertained myself by taking photos of the moon.
And peeking in on other photographers.
We were first, but we weren’t the last and as the sunrise got closer and closer, more and more photographers began showing up. Personal space became a problem and I nearly had a heart attack when the wife of another photographer bumped one of my husband’s cameras. It was perched on precarious rocks and I had visions of it falling into the water. I began to try to remember all the Chinese I could so that I could explain to the lady she owed us several thousand dollars if it did happen!
Lucky enough that wasn’t needed, although I did have to smile when that lady’s husband lost his footing and he ended up with one leg in the lake, guess that was some form of karma. My hubby got the shots he wanted, sort of, he has a master plan on how he wants to redo it when we go back up there in a couple of weeks, but I think this shot turned out great (except it is really wide and when I reduce it to fit here, it makes it really small!).
After our sunrise adventures we headed back to the hotel and had a huge breakfast. My reward for getting up so early! We began heading back home gently. Somehow we took a different route back out of Mammoth than the one we had arrived in on and pretty shortly we ended up slowing down for a whole bunch of cars. I couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on until I saw the gates of Yosemite. I have never been to Yosemite, so I was thrilled! Totally unplanned, but I got to drive through the park and check out some of their famous meadows, even if it was only for a few hours. What a treat!
How about you? Have you been to this area of California? Know any spots I should check out on my next trip up there?
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