Friday, October 9, 2015

Joint venture adventure

Yesterday we joined John and Pam on an adventure to Devil's Postpile near Mammoth Lakes.      On our way we made a little side trip to see the Inyo Craters.   We turned onto Forest Road 3S30 from Mammoth Scenic Loop and continued on this gravel road through an old growth Jeffery pine forest to the Inyo Craters trailhead.

 forest service road 3S30

the Wright's eat our dust...

The trail was short but steep.    I had to stop once or twice to catch my breath as we were at a little over 8000 feet and I'm a wimp.

Dave and Jeffrey

These three craters were formed by a series of small but violent steam blast eruptions (phreatic) about 600 years ago.   We only saw the two southernmost craters, they are each about 200 feet deep and contain small lakes.

Dave and John discuss volcanology on the crater rim

the second crater looked much different, more trees
and greener water

One has a number of pine trees in it and the other is still fairly denuded.  Despite their differences in shape and vegetation, they were formed at the same time, within hours of each other.

When we had seen what we wanted to see on the trail we got back in our jeeps and continued on to our next destination.    We followed John through Mammoth Ski area and down a steep, twisting, one lane road into Devil's Postpile National Monument.

The road afforded panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and passed through some beautiful Aspen.

We found a lovely small lake (Sotcher Lake) for a lunch stop.  We sat on logs under the "shade" of a huge Pine near the water's edge.

John checks out a distant fisherman's equipment...

lunch view from behind the reeds

After lunch we continued to our final destination - Devil's Postpile.    We parked and walked perhaps a half mile to the bottom of the pile through a shaded Lodge pole pine forest.

We could hardly believe our eyes.   These hexagonal columns of basalt lava rise 60 feet from the nearby middle fork of the San Joaquin River.   Erosion and earthquakes have felled many columns and their fragments form a talus slope at the Postpile's feet.    

I must have taken 100 pictures of this wall.   It was incredible to see.

We had heard that the view from the top of the pile was just as interesting, but after seeing the steep switchback stairs necessary to access them, I decided to let the others go on ahead and gave Dave my camera.    They decided to try another way up, to avoid those stairs so off they went.   I had intended to sit at the bottom and enjoy the view until they came back down with pictures.

My curiosity overrode my knee pain, however, so I started up the stairs to join them at the top.     It took me quite awhile, I stopped often to regain my breath, calm my heartbeat and rest my knee.  Once or twice I wondered if this was a wise decision, what if they came down another way and we wouldn't meet each other.....bear country, no one else around, no cell phone....hmmm.

Then I saw John's bright red shirt above and it renewed my vigor.   I think I really surprised them all when I appeared from the top step!     Oh my, I was so glad I made it.

The tops of the posts fit together like a fine old parquet floor.   They were polished by the glacier that exposed the pile some 20,000 years ago and were magnificent.

We all went down the way they had come up.   It wasn't a bad hike down and afforded us up close views of more columnar basalt formations.  John lent me his hiking poles and Pam showed me how to use them.   They made all the difference and I made it down with no knee problems.   Thanks guys.

a perfect place to rest a moment

What a wonderful day we all had.   To top things off (and so we didn't have to cook or do dishes....) we went out for a delicious dinner at the Mono Inn.  The food was great and the dining room had a wall of windows overlooking the Lake at sunset.  

Since John and Pam ( were with us all day, I'm sure you'll find the answers to all your questions about how and when the craters and the postpile were formed, etc. there.    I don't seem to have a mind for those kinds of details and John is so very good at them!


  1. Feels like deja vu:) I love your candid photos:) It was a wonderful day:)

  2. It's great you made it to the top! Hiking poles are wonderful for those with knee problems.

    This reminds me of Devil's Tower in WY which we saw this summer...only the only way to get to the top there is to scale the face of the thing! We are not rock climbers, so your photos give me an excellent idea of what that formations top must have looked like! Very cool!

  3. Wow! Isn't nature clever? Really wonderful photos, thank you.

  4. Some places are worth the pain. Glad you got there and didn't get eaten by the bears!

  5. That is an amazing place and so glad you made it to the top! Absolutely fun!