a weekend in Owens Valley

UPDATED with a few pictures from Mo at the end.

This past weekend I was a driver for a Geography Field Studies trip to Owens Valley. You might remember Owens Valley... I drive by it all the time because Hwy 395 runs through it and you all should know how much T loves Hwy 395 by now! Ironically, he was not on this trip.

The weekend started Friday morning with our first stop at Red Rock Canyon off Hwy 14. I have only driven by Red Rock Canyon once because T likes to avoid LA (which is where Hwy 14 takes you) when we drive the 395 and opts to take Interstate 15 instead. Red Rock Canyon is a pretty cool place but we only stopped for lunch and a little exploring.

Our next stop was Fossil Falls. This is just a short (dirt) road off Hwy395 and then a short hike to the falls. There is no water running down these falls anymore due to LA taking the water or a shift of the geography of the location, I can't seem to remember now... but where the falls were are the remains of rocks that have been worn smooth by water and smooth holes in them where boulders rubbed against each other. Not the best light for photos but below is a detail of the falls.

The next stop was Manzanar National Historic Site. Manzanar was the war relocation site for American-Japanese citizens during World War II. Most of it has been torn down but it has been made into a historic site and we stopped in to watch a video and explore the area. If History is a chance to learn form our mistakes, I hope we learn a huge lesson from what we did at Manzanar. Below is the picture of the memorial in the Manzanar Cemetery. The color in the foreground is garlands of origami cranes.

After Manzanar we headed to our campsite in Bishop. We stayed at Browns' Town because it is the only campground open right now. The students were great and helped set up camp and cook dinner. The only bad thing was that one of our camping neighbors decided to blast Persian music until about 2am. Not the best thing when we needed to be up at 6am. Here is a picture of the Eastern Sierra from the campground.

Our first stop on day 2 was Convict Lake. The wind had kicked up and the temperature had dropped this day. It was not unpleasant, but it was cold. I had ended up driving what the instructor dubbed the "Party Van". It had eight students who were all friends and had attended another field studies class together. On this day they jumped in the van and start to plan a snowball fight. When we got to Convict Lake they jumped out and started a snowball fight with the two other vans. Trouble makers, yes... but the kind of trouble makers who keep life interesting and fun. I was lucky to end up with the "Party Van".

Convict Lake was wicked cold and the wind was creating a lot of chop on the water. The picture below makes it look a little more dark and stormy then it actually was, but it was cold....really cold.

After Convict Lake we headed north to Mono Lake were we went to South Tufa and met a geologist for a tour. T and I always stop at Mono Lake when we pass it in the winter. We have a spot we love that has this tree.... When the light is right and it is covered in snow... it is breathtaking. I had never stopped at South Tufa before and highly recommend it. I also learned so much about the lake on our walk with the geologist. He worked for a group called the Mono Lake Committee who were responsible for saving Mono Lake. It was an incredible story to hear and I think a great way to show how two groups of people were able to compromise to help save an area and also serve people. We were the first group to see a video they have been creating about Mono Lake and I will update this when I know more about when it is going public.

After Mono Lake we headed south again through wind that pushed our van around a few times. The plan was to hike to Hot Creek. The week before the hike had been covered with snow and we had been told to prepare for a snow hike. Luckily for us the weather this past week had been warm and melted most of the snow. Hot Creek is a geothermal feature that has been closed due to unpredictable fluctuation in temperature. After seeing Yellowstone it seemed very small to me but it was still cool to see on our adventure. Here is a link to the closure notice and a picture.Our final stop on day 2 was in Bishop at Eric Schat's Bakery. The students bought bread while we gassed up the vans.

Day 3 found us heading home but not before stopping in the Alabama Hills and at Randsburg. T has been mentioning the Alabama Hills for about 2 years now but has yet to make it back there. We will now! What an amazing place. I think it was my favorite place on the whole trip. First the weather was cool but pleasant and these hills are BLM land so it is free to camp. The Eastern Sierra is the back drop to this beautiful, yet rugged space. I have a feeling we will be spending some time there this summer.

Overall it was a great trip and I learned a lot about the Owens Valley. A weekend well spent!
Mo and I at Convict Lake

Kris and I at Red Rock Canyon

Me above Fossil Falls

1 comment:

  1. Very informative. Been to Mono Lake and Convict Lake several times. I'd been wanting to visit Fossil Falls and will now make a point to stop. Thanks, Terry Dipple, Pomona, CA