We turned north and drove through the town of Lee Vining, to the Mono Basin Visitor Center.
The lake level has dropped considerably in the years since I had been there.
Underwater springs rich in calcium mix with the lakewater that is rich with carbonates.
Tufa is essentially common limestone. Dead plants, dead birds and anything that ends up in the lake will become fossilized with this calcium mix and basically turn to stone in this lake. Interesting stuff? Beer cans will be found millions of years from now and geologists will theorize about the origin of these small pumice boulders. But, by then, the lake will likely be gone. At the end of the last ice age it was five times bigger than it is today! So, I'm thinking that there won't be any lake left in 1.8 million years, if the planet lasts that long.
We had a great time crawling all over this place. "D" looked very professional in this shot...
I turned and took this shot toward the west and the Sierra Mountains from which we had come...
, including 35 species of shorebirds, use Mono Lake to rest and eat for at least part of the year.
One small Audubon's Warbler peered at us from the top of a tufa.
They did not seem bothered by the people coming and going on the trail. Again... the wildlife seems surprisingly at ease with humans.
We walked back to the car against a cold wind.
The place took on a different feel.
Probably because we were cold, tired and hungry.
We drove the 10 miles back to the highway and then into Lee Vining to eat an early dinner. We had not eaten since the cafe in Coulterville that morning... except for some crackers and a coke. Yeah... I know. It was time for some real food. We found a restaurant and got some hot tea and BIG Chinese Chicken salad. Salad never tasted so good.
As we passed this motel, walking to the car,
I kind of wished that I could just pay for an hour's worth of sleep. Just a short nap... but it was 4:00 p.m. and we still had to drive back into the park, over the pass and into Yosemite Valley before dark. "D" drove. We said goodbye to Mono Basin and climbed up the grade toward the east entrance to the park.
We wanted some "good light" and we got it at Olmsted Point. This was the "Golden hour" in photography terms. The sun was setting in the Valley and I was in the right place and the it was the right time.
I got the "money " shot.
The light was perfect. This is what Yosemite is all about. This is Half Dome as the sun was setting. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
The wind had died down and the light was perfect.
What more could I ask for?
Sometimes life gives you a moment that stays with you forever. This was one of them.
Next time... The Valley of Yosemite.