A stop at Mono Lake

Further along the road to Grandma’s house is Mono Lake, another favorite place to stretch our legs. Each time we decide to stop here, I try and pick someplace different. This time, I turned in on the road just north of the Visitor’s Center.

There’s a nice boardwalk here named for David Gaines, the founder of the Mono Lake Committee, that is the perfect length for a stretch-your-legs stroll after a few hours in the car. I’ve got to hand it to the Mono Lake Committee; after saving Mono Lake, they have found a myriad of ways to make the lake accessible to everyone, from those just passing through to those who want to stay longer. (Check out their website for information on workshops and activities.)

There’s no fish in this lake, just trillions of brine shrimp and alkali flies which feed the millions of migratory birds that stop here each year.

The rock formations are actually tufa, which is basically limestone that is formed when underwater springs rich in calcium mix with carbonates in the lake water, forming calcium carbonate which then precipitates around the spring, and over time, a tufa tower will grow.

Tufa towers only grow underwater; the reason you see so many of them around is that the lake level dropped dramatically when DWP started diverting water from the basin, depriving the lake of inflows. On this day, the lake has 7.5 feet to rise before it reaches it’s court mandated level. Click here to learn more about tufa.

The water contains chlorides, carbonates, and sulfates. It is highly alkaline, with a pH of 10, and almost three times as salty as the ocean.