Tufa Sunrise

Tufa Towers Pre-Sunrise

Around 4:45 a.m. this morning, I dragged myself out of bed to drive from Lee Vining, CA to Mono Lake which is only about 10 miles. For a long time now, I had wanted to take sunrise photos around the tufa towers of Mono Lake. In my excitement about this opportunity, I woke up about 45 minutes too early since the sky didn’t become light until about 5:30 a.m.Oh well!

Tufa towers are composed of calcium carbonate that forms unusual shapes typically underwater. The reason that some tufa towers at Mono Lake can be seen above water is simply due to the fact that the lake level now is much lower than its original level.

Coming to the Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve feels like being dropped onto an alien planet. The towers are so unusual that one cannot stop staring at them. Many birds use them as perches. In fact, I was able to see two ospreys that were tending to their nest on the top of one tower.

Tufa Towers at Sunrise

Tufa Towers at Sunrise

I feel very fortunate to have come here. Nature is never anything less than fascinating for me. I am continually amazed at how life adapts and thrives in harsh and seemingly unsuitable environments. The ecological balance in the lake is based on a very simple food chain. Bacteria and algae use the minerals and sun to proliferate. Brine shrimp and alkali flies eat them. 80 species of birds eat the brine shrimp and flies. That’s basically it in a nutshell.

I was the only human in this vast natural place on this very early morning. I enjoyed watching all the birds and other species (jack rabbits for example) go about their morning ritual of feeding, talking and generally hanging around.

I plan on visiting here again in different seasons. Mono Lake is ever changing naturally but new legislation in California will now help to restore the lake level to 6392 feet elevation. This is not as high as 1941 but it is a good balance for the wildlife in this region. Please go to the Mono Lake Organization website for detail information about the restoration.

I feel fulfilled and elated. Time stood still for a little while this morning and that’s a good thing.

Michael