Pictorial Highlight: Mono Basin

The Mono Basin, whose grandeur includes but is most definitely not limited to the famous Mono Lake, is one of my absolute favorite places.  It has so many stunning features.  Hopefully I capture and convey some of them to you, Dear Reader, with these pictures.

The “suds” seen on the bottom of this picture are from the incredible alkalinity of the lake; it’s like swishing around saltwater and baking soda!

The magnificent tufa formations are comprised mainly of calcium carbonate, formed when underground springs bubble up with minerals, coalescing and hardening and growing over thousands of years.  Mono Lake is one of the most unique lakes in the world; it was birthed from nearby geologic activity over 1,000,000 years ago!  David Carle is one of the foremost authorities (and writers) on Mono Lake and California ecology in general, and one of my inspirations for The Rewild West, my narrative nonfiction book for which I’m slowly gathering experience and research and material, of which this blog is a part.  Here’s a terrific piece Carle wrote about the tufa.  As he says therein, “Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but the real thing is always worth a thousand pictures….words strain to do [the tufa formations] justice.”

In the background is the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park, the eastern Sierra Nevadas.

Atop Panum Crater, with the lake in the background. Mono is rimmed by numerous craters; the last eruption was about 600 years ago.

I love the phenomenal little trees growing out of the incredibly harsh, unforgiving landscape of a rocky crater!

The formation on the left is, appropriately, called Obsidian Dome…

…and here’s what the beautiful rocks look like up close. They are literally made of cooled-off MAGMA! The time scale on which nature operates is so humbling and fascinating. During the time it took for this piece of rock to form from a hot spewing volcano, civilizations have been built and fallen, empires have risen and collapsed; before wind and snow and rain erodes it much more, the current global empire of industrial civilization will crumble and collapse. Oh how I yearn for it to begin in earnest…

Rikki enjoying herself near a 30-foot tufa formation.

Given the propensity of geothermal activity in the Basin, that means lots of hot springs!! This one was scalding (as you can see), so we stayed away–but nearby in the river there bubbled up some nice warm water in which to get naked =)

This shows Negit Island (which also supposedly has lots of geothermal activity going on), one of the two main islands within Mono Lake; this photo and the next were taken from the mountain pass about 1,000 feet above the lake.

Arrow-leaved balsom root flowers and mountains directly west of Mono Lake.

Thank you for viewing!  Nothing compares to the real thing though…hope you enjoyed this week’s Pictorial Highlight ❤

11 thoughts on “Pictorial Highlight: Mono Basin

    1. TheRewildWest Post author

      Thank you Simone!! And just think–all this stunning beauty, and what we have left is just FRAGMENTS, especially in the first world. Imagine what it was like pre-European invasion, or better yet, pre-civilization!!

  1. carolemccormick

    Anytime I see Rikki I am happy. What an amazing place. So many differences yet so many similarities to my beloved beach and both are wonderful. Those “black” rocks–the magma; the water and lack of it–so tranquil that a mermaid like me wants to hop right in without knowing the temperature even. Thank you, as always, for a great lift to my day and to the others I will share this with ❤ Until the industrial civilization disappears….remember "speciesism sucks" 🙂

    1. TheRewildWest Post author

      I feel the same way about Rikki 😉

      Mono Lake is truly something special…tranquil truly is one of the best words to describe it. I’m hoping to swim in it tomorrow!!

    1. TheRewildWest Post author

      Thanks for the kind words! It’s a truly magical place, it just has such a juneau ce’st qua (sp?), a feeling of peace and solitude…especially when you’re there by yourself in the dead of winter and it’s 25 degrees out in the middle of the day–those were the conditions my first trip there =)

      Thanks for your comment! ❤


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