Monday, July 14, 2014
Stormy Sunset @ Mono Lake, Eastern Sierra, CA
The very first time my sight viewed Mono Lake, I was totally awed by the place. Maybe because the first time I set my foot in this place was at sunset, which looked almost unreal for me. As I am used to the ocean, not with the surreal tall calcium carbonate rocks in front of me.
Sunset, Mono Lake
We felt that we did not have enough of Mono Lake on our first visit, that in just a few months, we went back to Eastern Sierra, to visit this amazing lake again.
Mono Lake, Sunrise, Eastern Sierra
What stands out in Mono Lake are the towering tufas. The tufas are these amazingly sculpted Calcium Carbonate towers above the water looking like those eerie guards at an Alien Kingdom. Walking along the shores of Mono Lake is like walking in a cave, only that the stalactites and stalagmites are not hanging from the ceiling, but stands above water with the beautiful sky above it. And unlike inside a cave, at Mono Lake, you can have these towering tufas with sunrise or sunset!
Mono Lake is an ancient lake, one of the oldest in North America. The towering sculpted limsestone rocks are called "tufas", which at first, we had difficulty remembering and would say "tofu". Though calcium carbonate rocks grow exclusively under water, but because of the change in water level in this lake, the toweing tufas were exposed. Above water, the tufas can no longer grow and are susceptible to erosion.
Sunset @ Mono Lake
Mono Lake has no drainage and the only way for water to escape is through evaporation, as a result, the water at Mono Lake is very salty. But do not mistake this desert lake to be lifeless already because of the extreme saltiness. Though no fish can probably survive in this lake from saltiness, but this lake is abundant in alkali flies and alkali shrimps which millions of migrating birds feed on.
Birds and tufas @ Mono Lake
Swarms of black alkali flies carpet the shoreline of Mono Lake during summer. However, these alkali flies are not interested of humans, and even not of aliens. These macroscopic flies are only interested with the microscopic algae. These alkali flies attract birds, for the birds, these are foods a lot tastier and richer in protein than brine shrimp. Because of the richness of the alkali flies in the lake, the lake attracts a lot of migratory birds making the lake the busiest airport for birds. In October, these birds have there biggest convention, and this convention is one of the biggest in North America, only that the guests are birds. Aerial surveys have revealed 1.5-1.8 million birds on the lake in the fall—comprising a large portion of North America’s population!
Traveling tip: Mono Lake is located in the Eastern Sierra, it is only 22 miles southeast from Yosemite National Park’s Tioga Pass entrance. It is also close enough to Mammoth Lakes Mountain and Ski Resort. Coming from Southern California on your way to Yosemite National Park via Tioga Pass entrance or on your way to Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake would be a good short detour. Definitely, if you are in the area, and are interested with a visit that feels like in another world, do make a side trip at Mono Lake.
Boardwalk @ Mono Lake
The pictures above were a collection from our several visits to Mono Lake. My most memorable experience from this area ( Lee Vining) was when I woke up in the middle of dawn, opened our window, looked out at the sky outside, and the stars were just shining and sparkling unbelievably. I could not keep that amazement to myself, I woke up my husband who was heavily asleep in bed and told him, "dear, look at the stars, I have never seen this horizon of stars that goes as far as my eyes can see, with the sky just so filled and glittered with them, never in my life!" My husband instead of getting mad for waking him up, also excitedly got up and ran to the window, then, we both looked there at the sky amazed. We attempted to take pictures, but unfortunately, it was way too cold ( sub-freezing temperature), and we did not have tripod yet at that time, that the pictures we took were just blur and blur :( . But that was the moment we decided then to buy a tripod :) and hopes to go back one day to Mono Lake and photograph these tufas with the stars!