Saturday, November 19, 2011

Fossil Falls

North of Ridgecrest, just off the 395 to the east, Fossil Falls provides a fascinating window to the past. The cinder cone above is located on the road in. (It's being mined for cinders--the red rock called scoria that is used in landscaping, etc. The photo above carefully does not show the mining operation.)

12,000 years ago, volcanic activity dammed the Owens River and caused it to flow through this area. The water polished black basalt rocks and sculpted them into fantastic shapes. The falls themselves drop 40 feet. The drama of it all is hard to capture in a picture--one would have to climb to the bottom of the falls and shoot upwards, a daunting proposition.

Here's a long view to give you an idea of what the landscape looks like. Ancient people inhabited this place from Pleistocene times. It had everything--abundant water, plenty of food sources and even an obsidian quarry nearby for making arrowheads.

Ever on the lookout for petroglyphs, we busily scoured the area but had no luck until a friendly fellow pointed out this one of a bighorn sheep. It was right on the side of the falls in a depression just large enough for one person. Not surprisingly, the style of the petroglyph exactly matches what we've seen in nearby Little Petroglyph Canyon. Below: another view of the polished basalt rocks.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Lake Sabrina, Bishop Creek, and the Buttermilks

Back to the Eastern Sierra travelogue! It was exactly a month ago when the first big storm of the season hit, and we were there for it. While it only rained a half day in Bishop, the mountains saw plenty of snow--and at a time when the trees still had their leaves, most of which hadn't turned color yet. The day after the storm, we took Route 168 from Bishop to Lake Sabrina. Above: Bishop Creek along the way.

The temperature at Lake Sabrina was a frosty 23 degrees, but there were plenty of fishermen out--some at the lake and some wading in the creek. We found that hard to imagine, it being plenty cold for us just standing around in the air. We saw deer frolicking near the road on our way back down.

Below the snow line, we stopped at "The Buttermilks"--a collection of giant boulders that reminded us somewhat of the rocks in Joshua Tree. The area is popular with rock climbers, who scramble up these behemoths with a minimum of equipment. See Bill in the last photo to give you an idea of the scale.