Dropping Into Mono

Deserts were a part of my young life. I was raised traveling to deserts, out of Los Angeles into the Mojave, past the Whitewater River, into the open, high, solitary air, going to Wiley’s Well and off to Saratoga Springs in Death Valley.

Then there I was, on a wide plain with abundant sagebrush scrub running west. This time the scrub was crashing into the base of white granite scarps that looked like they’d been popped up out of the plain.

I was hearing a creek, rushing down to the east, past me, toward a lake. The plain was the Great Basin Desert. The granite was the Sierra Crest.

The creek was Lee Vining Creek. The lake was Mono Lake, alive with its flocks of birds in continual motion.

I was in the Mono Basin in eastern California.

This place became like home to me. I was recently single, had a good job (money and vacations), a love of the outdoors, a passion for photography, good equipment and good mentoring. It would become a perfect storm of satisfaction.

It became a paean to movement and to life, powerful, beautiful, huge, serene. The vistas claimed me. I got to see it in all its finery, and all of its seasons. Its juxtaposition of high desert and Sierra scarps inflamed my vision of land. I hiked many trails starting at nearly 7,000 feet trailheads. I stood on the shoulder of 13,000 foot Mt Dana, gazing down on the ancient lake. I also came to know many of its roads, meadows, bushes, trees, creeks, rocks, and resting places. I came to know folks who’d chosen to reside there. When I had to go home to live the rest of my life, I missed that land. How did this all happen, this crashing of desert into some of the highest peaks in the continental US, the rising of the Range Of Light? A short break, then then on to seeking answers.

The images presented in this gallery are all of the Mono Basin. I would march to these scenes with a 30+ pound pack, praying for sweet light. The victories were captured on 4×5 film, BW or color transparency. Some would be published in the MonoLake Committee calendar. These images remain a standard against which I measure my work.

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