Mono Lake: The Range of Light


Nestled between the high desert of the Great Basin and the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains in California, Mono Lake is an ancient saline lake that covers over 70 square miles. It is one of the most unique (and borderline absurd) natural landscapes to visit in California, but somehow most people still aren’t aware of it’s existence. Mono Lake has enchanted me many times, but my most recent visit was incomparably vibrant. A storm was rolling in that night and the evening sky was dark and blustery. It was freezing cold but we were driving by the lake just before sunset, so without question, we stopped to take a walk. Here I’ve seen golden sunsets and hot pink sunsets, but this was the first I’ve seen of its kind. The water was painted with waves of rainbow as the sun began to lower over the mountain. We meandered through the ancient Tufa Towers that grace the shoreline and make this historic place so unfathomably mystical. Then suddenly a burning red flare started to overtake the sky, the clouds, and then the water. I don’t think we blinked for the few minutes this lasted, but before we knew it, the sky settled into an eery dark grey with glowing silver water. To watch the world turn so many colors right in front of your eyes…it reminded me of a John Muir Quote:

“Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one rich furred garden of yellow Compositae. And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city…. Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light.”


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