We have taken the drive into the Eastern Sierras on US 395 and it is simply a breathtaking slice of California! Although a slow starter, Autumn is finally announcing her arrival. Once again we have met up with our buddies Nina and Paul at the Oh! Ridge NFS campground overlooking June Lake and, oh yeah, this is something special. There is so much to do here that a month would not suffice.
Nina and Paul have been here a week so they, being the ever-so-gracious hosts, have given us multiple ideas and a number of trails to set off on for viewing fall colors.
Given that I have a bit of an altitude issue, I am working on acclimatizing myself to hiking at higher elevations. This campground sits at roughly 7600 feet above sea level so we opted for a nice 4-mile hike to Parker Lake, with an easy 680 foot elevation gain, a great starter hike for me. Parker Lake is a sparkling little lake nestled into a small canyon at the base of some 12,000 foot peaks of the Sierra Crest. It is a lovely little prize at the end of the trail.
Next up was a sunrise visit to the Mono Lake Tufa Towers, which Nina said was a must-see and oh yeah, she was not kidding.
Mono Lake is a large, shallow lake that formed more than 760,000 years ago. Because it has no outlet to the seas, high levels of salts have accumulated, resulting in waters that are 2.5 times saltier and 1000 times more alkaline than the oceans. With such alkaline waters you would not expect a thriving ecosystem but you would be wrong. Interestingly enough, brine shrimp and alkali flies are prolific here, and the flies seem happy to live both above and under the water, feasting on the algae that grows in large number here. The alkali fly larvae were a source of nutrition for the native peoples long ago and continue to be the food choice for the two million annual migratory birds that grace these shores.
So, what the heck is tufa you ask? Here at Mono Lake these strange rock formations, which have grown since the existence of this lake, are basically limestone (calcium carbonate). The lake water and the calcium in the underwater springs combine to create a chemical reaction, that over centuries lays down layers of limestone to create these bizarre towers. Had it not been for the water level of the lake dropping precipitously over the past 70+ years, photographers from around the world would not have the pleasure of capturing these odd yet beautiful spires, some reaching heights of over 30 feet.
Tufas grow many places around the world but Mono Lake has the most active formations and some of what we were viewing in the early morning light have been around since the last Ice Age, when Mono Lake was five times her present size.
Although it was rather brisk at 6:00 am, I cannot tell you the excitement I felt as the sun breached the mountain peaks. Her fingers first tickled the lake, casting stunning colors and reflections, only to have her reach out minutes later to cast a golden glow on the tufa. Wow, what a sight!
After many, many photos, we headed back to the warmth of our vehicle and straight to Silver Lake Cafe for a yummy breakfast and a chance once again to marvel at what we had just witnessed.
From here a quick 3-mile hike up the Lundy Canyon Trail, to a striking overlook showcasing golden aspens and a cascading waterfall, rounded out our day. Oh yeah, life is good. 🙂
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32 thoughts on “Oh Yeah ~ Oh! Ridge NFS Campground, June Lake, CA”
What great photos. I have been to Mono Lake many times, but it never looked that beautiful. I guess the time of the day makes a big difference. Love your descriptions. You are just getting more poetic.
Thanks Joan and I do believe the time of the day has a lot to do with how the tufa towers look. They changed colors many times while we were there. It was a wonderful experience.
We’re taking our son to see the tufa towers tomorrow (we’re currently in Mammoth). We love June Lake and this entire region and visit as often as we can. Enjoy your stay!
Thanks Linda. As adventuresome as your son is, I’m sure he is going to love them. It was a great experience for us.
I agree seeing sunrise at Mono Lake is a MUST if you are in the area. Would love to go back with Chris — someday. Hope with this change in lifestyle you have discovered sleep.
I think Chris would love the tufas at sunrise. A bit chilly (actually rather cold) but so worth it! I am sleeping better with this new lifestyle, although not all the time. Old habits die hard! I have been thinking about you a lot. Has Cricket come home yet?
What a beautiful place, didn’t know too much about this part of California so will be bookmarking some of these places. I have a problem with sunrises as I am never up to see them, I’m great with sunsets though. 🙂
We are up for sunrise, although not out of the house to capture them usually. This was Nina’s suggestion as she had been before and it was fabulous. How is your workamping experience going?
Oh wow! Lovely images, and looks and sounds like you are having a fun time.
That place looks so peaceful lol. Thanks for sharing 🙂
The Eastern Sierras are so beautiful and the tufas at sunrise were a special treat. Thanks Boomie! 🙂
Love Mono Lake.! For a different take on the lake see my blog post from Feb. 2012: http://travelbug-susan.blogspot.com/2012/02/not-tofu-tufa-feb-7-2012.html
Such a beautiful area!
Thanks for visiting Susan. I will definitely visit your blog as well. We are having a wonderful time in the Eastern Sierras. 🙂
I love the Eastern Sierra – 395 is one of my favorite drives. I haven’t spent much time at June Lake but I’ve been to Mono Lake many times. Wish I could out there right now.
The colors are probably not as spectacular this year as in past years but they are still very striking against the Sierras. So much to see in this beautiful country of ours. Thanks for stopping by Andrew. Hope you are well on the road to recovery and good health. 🙂
oh yeah! what a breath taking voyage you all are on!
Yes we are. We are looking forward to seeing some photography that you will begin taking on this new adventure you and Les are on. Love you both! 🙂
Great pictures. Your adventures along 395 bring back memories of the days we lived in Bishop. Raising our kids in this paradise was wonderful.
Thanks Gale. It is a beautiful area, isn’t it?
Oh my! So beautiful! I’m adding this area to my must-see list!
Wonderful! It is quite lovely here, with hiking everywhere. 🙂
From a trip to that area back in 1978… http://wp.me/pXX8J-SN
Does it still look the same? Your pictures are much lovelier.
This is our first visit here but the pictures look the same. The Eastern Sierras are just stunning! 🙂
Simply Beautiful, and tell Terry I’m back to being Jealous, oops no I mean very very envious! 🙂
I will pass it along and we could bring you along as a stowaway, you know. 🙂
I’d love it! 🙂
This is the same location of the post when I featured Nina’s blog. I expect nothing less than majestic views. How I envy my favorite RV’ers. My blog is crying for 4th linkage to this blog. HEhe
You are welcome to tag along with us whenever you want! 🙂
Thank you for taking us along, LuAnn!
You are welcome. 🙂
Mono Lake looks heavenly…thank you for sharing. 🙂
I just came from Rommel’s place and loved his review…had to come take a peek! 🙂
Mono Lake is heavenly. Thanks for stopping by. I stopped by your site and you now have a new follower. 🙂