Friday, July 15, 2011

Day 19: Bodie Ghost Town, Mono Lake, and Devil's Postpile at Mammoth Lakes

Our first stop today was at the ghost town of Bodie, definitely the best ghost town we've seen (and said to be the best in the country). This old gold mining town has been left nearly completely untouched since it's people abandoned Bodie--glass bottles still on the table, furniture still in place, and even old cars and signs still left outside. An eerie chill still still raises goose bumps when I look at some of these pictures.

We left the dirt road at Bodie and soon arrived at Mono Lake, a stunning blue landscape amid a seemingly barren desert. We are lucky to have this pristine basin of blue today, as it was almost completely gone until the government put a stop to using the water for nearby Los Angeles. This lake acts as an important buffer to keep the area cooler in the summer and warmer in the harsh winters.

After lunch, we arrive at Mammoth Lakes to check out Devils Postpile National Monument. We were given time to go on a mini hike, which left me refreshed after several days spending long--very, very long--hours in the van. The forest is absolutely beautiful here and the brief hike to the impressive 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 sided columns at Devils Post Pile was just what my travel weary bones needed. We took a shuttle down from a busy ski area (no one is skiing now of course, but there is a lot of mountain biking here) to the trail to see where volcanic basalt rocks crystallized in stunning shapes and pattern. These rocks formed below the surface but were revealed when glaciers eroded the layers above them.

On our way to our hotel, we practiced being real geologists (okay, real amateur geologists) and "read the landscape" to see if we could identify all the geological features in the diverse landscape through which we passed on our way to Bishop, CA. It was thrilling to see how much we could identify. What used to look like mysterious scenery to me, now tells a story about the sculpting of Earth as we know it today. I've always treasured the outdoors, and now I'm really beginning to understand them and their appeal. This knowledge doesn't take away any of the mystery; rather, my deeper understanding of the ground I hike on and the mountains I climb only fills me with more awe, wonder, and gratitude than ever before.

Anticlines above a fault scarp indicate high prevalence of tectonic activity in this region.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, after day 19 I lost internet access and I also lost steam in terms of updating the blog.  To sum up the last day: Yosemite was crowded, but lovely.  Sequoia had a lot of really big trees.

I wrote a 42-page paper about the geology of the national parks, took a test, 
and got an A in the course. 
I also I have a long list of places to re-visit some day.

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