Friday, April 21, 2017

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

please remember you can click on a photo to see a larger version

We arrived in the Black Point area mid morning and resumed our fissure search adventure, Since Black Point erupted beneath Mono Lake's surface, sudden cooling of the rock produced cracks in the surface. Now we know you suspect, for a second attempt, we'd know exactly where to go. Yes, we had done our homework.

It is amazing to wind around inside these cracks and then venture back up to the surface.

One fissure is kind of the star attraction, fifty feet deep, narrow, cold, and dark; an into the bowels of the earth feeling.

Yes, we jumped back and forth over the deep fissure, a visitation requirement. We also surprised a young German couple on their second day of adventures in the US. How in the world did they choose and find this amazing spot to visit?

The Lady told me we were only allowed so many jumps across the crack or we would appear to be abusing the honor of visiting here and she  suggested we move on and explore the entire crest of Black Point.

"I love to weave through the sage!" she told me, out in the lead, thoroughly enjoying being here. I am convinced that in a previous life she was a jack rabbit.

After arriving back at the truck, where to go next?

"Let's go look at Panum Crater again!" the Lady suggested. "It's been a long time since we visited there!"

"April 1988," I added. She just stared at me.

Panum Crater is a very recent volcanic addition to the Mono Lake Basin landscape, erupting only 600 or so years ago. Another in the series of volcanic eruptions that includes Black Point, it is a classic plug dome rising inside the outer rim of the first violent explosion.

The views are expansive, especially on a clear, cool Spring day.

I followed the jack rabbit completely around the rim of the crater and then we climbed up on the central dome.

The view to the south down the line of craters is awe inspiring.

Amazing displays of obsidian are all about.

Although the CalTrans website and all the signage on 395 and 120 said that highway 120 was closed east of 395, something drew us to drive over to the gate. It was open. As we drove east evidence showed that the road had been plowed some time ago and only patches of snow remained up on Sagehen Summit.

"Do you think we can camp at our favorite place in the Granite Mountains? the Lady asked. "That would be a treat. A real treat!"

She got the usual response. "We'll find out."

We pulled into our spot on the edge of the granite.

The Lady popped up the camper top and I turned on the propane and attached the grey water drain system to the sink.

"Feral horses are across the valley," I mentioned to the Lady as I completed my chores.

She was instantly out of the camper with her see mores. "We have horses!" she said and flashed a smile over at me. She knows exactly how I feel about these invasives.

"Where are our horses?" she asked as camp was all set up.

"They disappeared down the valley," I said and looked that way.

"Let's circle around through the rocks and see if we can intercept them!"

We were on our way.

"There's our horses!" she said and smiled.

The sun dropped low into the west as we walked after dinner, washing its light across the landscape.

It dropped down to 23° overnight but the sun was gloriously warm Saturday morning on our faces. There was hardly a breeze. We relaxed with a leisurely breakfast. I cooked.

We explored secret places on Saturday, staying off of pavement as much as possible.

Since reading about Mono Diggings, Monoville, the water ditch system, I have wanted to see the Sinnamon Cut, a massive placer mining cut made possible by bringing water all the way from Virginia Creek and the East Walker River. James Sinnamon was one of the gold rush's success stories. He pulled his gold out of the ground here and used it to develop ranchland in the Bridgeport area becoming one of the first permanent settlers. Sinnamon Meadows are the vast grasslands along Dunderberg Meadows Road.

We camped high above Mono Lake near the terminus of part of the ditch system.

We hiked above camp and looked back.

The Sinnamon Cut encircles the northern slopes of the knoll on the left.

Here are two closers shots.

The Mono Diggings are extensive in Rattlesnake Gulch, Bacon Gulch, and Rancheria Gulch. We explored the high ground and then worked our way back to the camper. A Sierra Wave was building.

After supper the Lady wanted to play on all that granite she saw below us. I couldn't resist either.

A marvelous place to have all to ourselves.

Far below, last light worked across the old Conway Ranch.

We walked until dark and returned for another quiet night in our cozy camper. We are addicted to quiet open places.

Morning came quickly. I got kicked out of the camper with the camera...........................

........................and the Lady tended to her morning fussing that ends with the reward of steaming mugs of Peets Coffee and a long walk in the morning light.

Intoxicated and restored with the sweet scent of sage, we returned home.


  1. Now she has her last long slog to retirement. But then these kinds of escapes can be completely unplanned and spontaneous. Enjoy and keep sharing.

    1. She is coaching track now after school so time is zooming by. May 26 is her final day.

  2. Beautiful Ski.
    Thanks for all the photos.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments Frank!


  3. Julie and Monte, you've shared another wonderful trip with us! Thanks for letting us tag along. Oh, see mores are really birdoculars :)

  4. Thanks for another story of your travels. Love 'The List' and we use one as well. And thanks by calling them by their correct name, feral...

    1. Happy to oblige! Thanks for your kind comment.

  5. Feral equines couldn't drag me away from reading your wonderful stories!

    1. You are very kind, thank you Dan!