Driving north on 395 we stopped at Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve. We had camped there about 10 years ago and had been captivated by the tufas, a natural formation exposed by unnatural events. Starting in the 1940’s, the mountain streams that feed Mono Lake were rerouted to Los Angeles to supply water (over 300 miles away). The water level of the lake gradually fell and revealed these underwater limestone towers. See them while you can. The lake is going to be restored and the tufas will be submerged again in 20 years, returning to their watery home.
I learned something new. There is a fall foliage tourist season in the Sierra’s and we were there for the start of it. As a New England, spectacular fall foliage displays were part of the our local identity. Tourists (called “leafers” by the natives) come from afar to see the show. I wanted to find out what California had to offer and if New England had a competitor.
Aspens were the primary color source creating rivulets of gold and yellow running down damp ravines on the mountainsides. What was missing in range and intensity of color was made up for by the beauty of the mountains they adorned.
Continuing past Mono Lake, looking for patches of turning aspens, I directed us to a national forest campground I had found on the map, imagining we’d be nestled in a golden leafy glow. But the elevation was too high and we were instead surrounded by dark green pines.