Oregon & California’s Lake Mono and the High Sierra’s string of alkali lakes

 

              

I expected eastern Oregon / US 395 to feature soaring peaks from the Rockies – high mountains, for the most part, did line most of the long, arid valley that I drove through. 

 

What I didn’t expect was the Great Basin, an intimidatingly empty space without car services for 95 miles and again the subject of the next web page, #4.  I also didn’t expect a line of alkali lakes stretching from the north of Oregon to the southern end of California.  Powerful concentrations of salts and sodas leeching up from under the High Sierras’ mountain chain penetrate the line of mostly faded, saline blue lakes sustainable afterwards for brine shrimp and bearable for birds to hug the shoreline. 

No lake houses dot these bodies of water, or swimmers cutting waves, or tiki bar on a pier – desolation is the norm for all of them.  Lake Mono may have the most normal shade of blue but appeared to me almost as lonely as the rest.

 

Lake Mono’s color is relatively deep blue and despite its beautiful setting, few if any people occupy it.

Lake Abert (below) in eastern Oregon was my first encounter with an alkali lake.  Note the lighter blue hue of Abert compared to Mono. 

Alturas Lake (below) in northeastern California is featured.  Note the vast tan and dry plain of salts / soda that leeched up and hardened. 

 

Upper Alfalfa Lake (below) generates a near-constant mist that hovers over the lake.

Lake Abert (below) in background – its emptiness and stillness amazes.

Another picture of Lake Abert and the clouds’ reflection in it.