mono-lake-pano

One beautiful, otherworldly destination in California is Mono Lake. Our most recent visit presented us with a soft, pastel panorama.

Mono Lake is one of the oldest lakes in North America, its life estimated to be at least 760,000 years. It is fed by nearby Sierra Mountain streams but has no outlet. Streams carry minerals into the lake; evaporation reduces its fresh water content. As a result the lake has a salt concentration twice that of the ocean and no fish can live there.

Mono, however, supports life: trillions of brine shrimp and alkali flies sustain migratory birds that flock here. At various times of the year it is a birder’s paradise with nearly 100 species of birds residing here. Mono Lake is second in size only to Great Salt Lake as a California gull rookery. Anywhere from 44,000 to 65,000 gulls arrive each year to breed at Mono Lake.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a closer look at the tufa formations you see in the waters of this shot.

butterfly-1

I don’t usually manage to capture shots of butterflies. But two came to rest near my feet as I stood at Rock Creek in California. I usually like to correctly name things I find but my reference shelf is bereft of butterfly books and I presently lack patience for Google. So, this is the one with blue dots.

butterfly-2

This is the orange one with black dots. Both are very pretty.

If you can provide an accurate name, your comment is welcomed.

heart-lake

In my humble opinion if you’re lucky you’re sometimes blessed with finding beautiful, welcoming places that simply feel good. When you’re there all’s right in the world. This, for me, is one of those places. It’s called Heart Lake.

heart-lake-2

On a map Heart Lake is shaped roughly like a heart. In all the years I’ve visited I’d never before noticed this vignette. Look above the “D” in the Sequim Daily Photo watermark.

heart-lake-3

The heart you see here is darker coloring in the granite of the rock, a completely natural phenomenon.

I collect heart shaped rocks. I’m a fan of hearts. This has to be the coolest one I’ve yet seen.

top-of-grade

Here’s one of the views that rewards hikers at the top of Crankcase Grade in the Little Lakes Valley of Rock Creek Canyon in California. It’s about two miles to the mountains in the distance.

along-the-trail

The trail is less strenuous, though there is some moderate elevation gain in places.

mack-lake

One of the many appeals of the area is a string of small lakes that the trail skirts. Tomorrow I’ll show you my favorite.

crankcase-grade

I saw and walked this trail for the first time 18 years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. Not on its challenges, which can be considerable, but on what unfolds for the walker.

It’s called “Crankcase Grade” because that’s what old logging trucks left behind as they traversed this when it was a road. It’s now part of the John Muir trail system and peppered with boulders and a granite staircase of sorts. After a short grade from the parking lot, the trail goes up. It’s not so much that it goes up but that many walkers, myself included, have come from much lower altitudes. Thinner air and exertion make a hard combination.

crankcase-looking-back

This is the view looking back down the trail. It’s a good excuse to stop and catch a breath.