Welcome to part three of my California road-trip blog series. If you haven't seen parts one and two yet, please check them out in the menu.
Mono Lake is a large but shallow, saline lake about half an hour's drive North of where we staying in Mammoth Lakes. The lake has no outlet thus is very alkaline due to accumulation of salt left behind when the water evaporates. If you dip your hand in the water, it feels weirdly slimy and soapy (so we weren't tempted to go for a swim). The lake's trademark attraction is its limestone stacks, known as "tufa" towers. These formed over centuries under the lake's surface where fresh water springs mixed with the highly alkaline lake water, leaving calcium carbonate deposits.
In 1941, a decision was made by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to divert the water from the Mono Lake basin and, as a result, the water level dropped, exposing the tufa towers. This created some truly stunning photo opportunities... so much so, we decided to visit twice!
Part 1 - daylight.
Our first trip to Mono lake was on a bright, sunny afternoon. The sky was blue and the snow-capped mountains in the distance almost looked artificial.
The following day, Mono lake was en route again for our trip into Yosemite. We decided to set the alarm for 4.15am and, with the help of a double dose of instant coffee in the hotel room, we made it to the lake just before sunrise. I'm certainly not a "morning person" but the early start was certainly the right decision. The photos speak for themselves...