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Geology Tour: Fossil Falls and Alabama Hills

A Red Wall Near Cinder Cone

A Red Wall Near Cinder Cone

Fossil Falls is located south of Lone Pine, near Little Lake. We passed Owens Dry Lake. It was a big empty space, a big white area in the map. A sea of sagebrush dominated the field in the valley. Joshua trees appeared in the fields as we got closer to Coso Range. The sight of piles after piles of black lavas indicated that we were getting close to Fossil Falls. Then this big reddish mound came to our vision on the east side of the highway. It has a big depression on its side. We have arrived at the cinder cone near Fossil Falls.

There is no water no falls at Fossil Falls. The volcanic activities from Coso Range spilled lava flows to the valley. Cooled lava flows formed basalt flows. Owens River once ran through here. Later volcanic activities blocked the flow of Owens River, and it changed its course to ran over the basalt flows. The basalt lavas were sculpted and polished by the water over time. When the Owens Lake was dried up, waterfalls disappeared. It would be a spectacular scene had the white water roaring down the steep basalt rocks.

View of Mt. Whitney and Lone Pine Peak  Through Mobius Arch

View of Mt. Whitney and Lone Pine Peak Through Mobius Arch

We got up early again this morning trying to catch the scene of Mt. Whitney at sunrise. It was a clear and chilly morning. People who were camping at Alabama Hills enjoying a magnificent view of both Mt. Whitney and Lone Pine Peak. We were there when the first sunray kissed Mt. Whitney. I hurried to Mobius Arch. Three men with cameras in hand were already there. The view of Mt. Whitney and Lone Pine Peak from Mobius Arch was stunning. Mt. Whitney glowed with a beautiful golden hue. Lone Pine Peak looked pretty from this angle and appeared larger and higher than Mt. Whitney due to its closer proximity to us. The image of Lone Pine Peak is the default desktop of Mac OS Sierra.

View of Mt. Whitney And Lone Pine Peak Through Lathe Arch at Sunrise

View of Mt. Whitney And Lone Pine Peak Through Lathe Arch at Sunrise

After taking photos at Mobius Arch, we walked to Lathe Arch which was just several steps away. It was a low arch by the trail and often overlooked. I climbed down the brown granite rocks. After balancing myself between the gap of rocks, I was able to take photos through the opening of Lathe Arch. It framed a panoramic view of Mt. Whitney and Lone Pine Peak.

Alabama Hills was created when the Sierras was born. According to Earth Science Picture of the Day (epod.usra.edu), Alabama Hills were uplifted from a moist underground. Granites were weathered underground in the moist condition. The rocks formed joints and sculpted through spheroidal weathering. They described these rocks like potatoes. I think some rocks do like potatoes because of the color and shape. But the arches are interesting. Heart Arch got its name because its opening looks like a heart. From the parking lot, you can also see a heart shaped piece of sky through its opening.

East Sierra is dynamic with abundant natural wonders. I am blessed being here to explore this region and appreciate its beauty.

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