Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring Break - Into the Western Great Basin - April 2017 - Part Two

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At the intersection the road sign read, "Hawthorne 22 Miles" with an arrow pointing east.

"Let's go to Hawthorne and gas up," I said. "We've never been over Lucky Boy Pass."

It was our first time in the Wassuk Range. It is an incredible drop down the east side to Hawthorne. The Wassuk is a tilted block similar to our home Sierra Nevada Range.

The highway up the East Walker Canyon to Bridgeport has been closed for months due to a mudslide. That fact helped with our decision to head out to Hawthorne.

After Hawthorne we headed west to Mono Lake. Almost in unison we both exclaimed, "Let's look for the fissures!" The list was at work again. Friends, Patrick and Ted, had both recently mentioned the Black Point Fissures to us.

We drove out to the Black Point trailhead. We both enjoyed the sign because it stated there was no trail to the fissures. To find them would be an "adventure", so the sign said.

We were alone on this vast edge of Mono Lake.

Black Point is a volcano that erupted underneath the waters of much larger Mono Lake, 13,000 years ago. The waters receded over time and Black Point is now the only completely exposed underwater volcano on earth. I did not know this. I was fascinated by the rock as we climbed to the top.

Most interesting was the water rounded granite embedded in the surface.

As I was focused on the rock the Lady was focused on the views and getting to the top.

With Los Angeles' exploitation of the waters of the eastern Sierra watershed, it was no surprise that LA Water Department did the surveying.

Getting caught up in the views and rock bands and wandering, we did not find the fissures. On our big circle back to the truck, we encountered more mule deer.

The only decision we had now was where to spend the night. It was an easy decision and we returned to the old homestead above Mono Lake, a place we now call Donna's Camp because she enjoyed our recent stay there so much.

The other draw was all the granite outcrops to play on and explore.

Around the granite outcrops between us and the distant shore of Mono Lake I was surprised to find pieces of tufa encrusted granite.

Does this indicate that these granite towers and boulders were once covered in wind and wave deposited layers of tufa when on the shoreline of ancient Mono Lake? They would have been incredible to see!

We returned to camp and Donna's front porch.

We enjoyed our simple dinner, we walked under the darkening skies, and awaited the rise of the full moon.

We took a long walk the next morning at dawn. It is so much fun to awake with the world around us. I continued my interest in exploring the Mono Diggings/Monoville area.

The homestead is much newer than the 1800's but just to the east is a massive placer mining cut enabled by the water ditch system completed in 1861. This was early industrial scale mining for gold.

We needed to get home so we packed up, grabbed a quick breakfast on the road, and were home in the late morning.

The Lady's Mother was 91 years old. Her husband, the Marine she waited for to return from World War II, her husband of 70 years, was by her side when she passed the first week of April. It was not unexpected, a blessing perhaps, but still a difficult milestone event. We had been busy handling all the arrangements, legalities, and grieving. You can understand the need for a quick couple of days away, alone together.

Tuesday afternoon, after arriving home we picked up Mom's remains from the funeral home along with the important death certificate. Wednesday we handled all the legalities requiring that death certificate, wrapping up everything we could. Thursday we took Dad down to the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery to arrange his wish for both he and Mom to be interned in that sacred ground. Thursday evening was a quiet time to reflect, and to listen to the rain drum on the roof.

Julie's Father has a great group of buddies at the retirement complex - they all call it the "compound" - we moved him into three years ago. He is doing well in this safe environment.

The weather forecast predicted a short break in the weather over the weekend. We hit the road before dawn Friday morning, again topping off supplies with a stop at Smiths in Gardnerville. We made the decision on where to go as we drove south on 395. What was on the list? What did the Lady want to do?

"Let's find the Black Point Fissures!" she smiled and said, looking out the window at the passing landscape.

Our adventure continues in the final installment, Part Three. Please Click - HERE