The Incomparable Mono (that would be “Mow-no”) Lake

Our journey back East took us South on Cali via Route 395 – home to Mono Lake- a spot I’ve wanted  to visit for years & finally had the opportunity.  

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Mono Lake lives up to the hype – an other-worldly spot that defies explanation.  

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Route 395 was an unexpected delight – beautiful views around every turn winding through the Sierra Nevada Range.  DSC_2191

 

Mono (pronounce “Mow-no”) and the surrounding area was home to Native Americans for years until we kicked them out for gold, water, land.  The creation of Los Angeles led to Mono as it appears today – Los Angelenos need for water drained the lake and created todays “Tufas” – large forms that grew from the combo of salt and sand.


DSC_3329In 1941, the LA Department of Water & Power  began diverting Mono Lake’s tributary streams 350 miles south to meet the growing water demands of Los Angeles.
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The environment around the Lake began to unravel due to lack of water. Air quality grew poor as the exposed lake bed became the source of air-borne particulate matter, violating the Clean Air Act.  Mono Lake was certain to become a lifeless chemical sump.

 

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The lake is also home to hundreds of migrating birds attracted to the plentiful flies & brine shrimp.  The original people who lived here also dined on the same foods – the flies were harvested, dried and consumed like bacon bits – a major source of protein.

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The controversy over alkaline Mono Lake, which is famous for its bizarre, craggy tufa formations and breeding grounds for sea gulls and migratory birds, is one of California’s longest-running environmental disputes.  The plan is to decrease the amount of water diverted to LA to raise the water level.

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Deprived of its freshwater sources, the volume of Mono Lake halved, while its salinity doubled. Unable to adapt to these changing conditions within such a short period of time, the ecosystem began to collapse.  At some point in 1962, the lake had dropped almost 25 vertical feet.

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Today, this is a photographer’s paradise.

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You could not swing a dead cat at Mono’s dawn without hitting a photographer.  In addition to Mono Lake, folks appreciate Bodie State Park and the color changes found along the highway.

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Mono Lake does not disappoint and provides spectacular vistas.




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