One day we saw a picture on the internet that looked like it was taken on Mars and were curious where it was taken. We did a little bit of research and found out that the place is called Mono Lake and is just a few kilometres off Highway 395, 21 kms east of Yosemite National Park, near the town of Lee Vining, California. Photographers come here from all over the world to capture the interplay of light on the mountains, desert, and water. There is a 1.6km self-guided nature trail at South Tufa. This is the best place to visit if you have time for only one stop. A boardwalk trail below Mono Lake County Park allows access to the north shore tufa area and wetland.
The lake that is about 1 million years old is well known for its "tufa towers", calcium-carbonate spires and knobs formed by interaction of freshwater springs and alkaline lake water. The water in the lake is two and a half times as salty as the ocean and swimming in it is a memorable experience. Because its salty water is denser than ocean water, it provides a delightfully buoyant swim. Old timers claim that a soak in the lake will cure almost anything. Keep the water out of your eyes or any cuts, as it will sting.
The first day we arrived, there was a storm coming over the lake, so we managed to capture a few pictures with the stormy clouds that were a nice bonus to the strange atmosphere of the lake.
Mono Lake is a vital resting and eating stop for migratory shorebirds. Nearly 2,000,000 waterbirds use Mono Lake to rest and eat for at least part of the year. Some shorebirds that depend on the resources of Mono Lake include American avocets, killdeer and sandpipers. Over 1.5 million eared grebes and phalaropes use Mono Lake during their long migrations.
The water in the lake after the storm was very choppy so we used our Lee Big Stopper to achieve the smooth surface of the water just in time when a few rays of sun peeked through the passing clouds.