Ghost towns and Lava fissures
Looking back in time..Bodie is a historic State Park North of Mono Lake. A ghost town. We took the back way in, if you follow the signs from the 167 you will come in on a long and washboard type dirt road..I guess we like to do things the hard way;)
Named after Waterman S. Body..(wouldn’t it have bothered you the town couldn’t have gotten your name right?;) who found gold here in 1859. It has a very depressed feel to it, a monument to our frailty, our greed and the worst of human nature.
I’ve always had a soft spot for ghost towns but this one felt different, a testament to greed. From what I have read at it’s peak with a population of 10,000 murders occurred nightly in any of the sixty-five saloons and bars. Robberies, stage hold ups and street fights were common place.
The old Methodist church erected in 1882. The ministers had their hands full, a quote from the brochure the reverend F.M. Warrington saw it in 1881 as “a sea of sin, lashed by the tempests of lust and passion”.
The last service was held here in 1932.
Destroyed by fire on more than one occasion parts of the town was rebuilt many times.The town sits at an elevation of almost 8400 feet, summers are brutally hot and winters devastatingly cold. The nearest wood for fires miles and miles away, water as well.
It is a reminder of just how transient we are…It remains in what they call a state of “arrested decay”..interiors of the buildings remain in the condition they were found and some restoration to improve roofs and stabilize buildings is being done but it’s ghost town feel remains very intact. You feel a bit like a “voyeur” peeping through windows at someone’s private life. The layers of dust covering the surfaces accentuate the feel of a long ago lived past.
There are several beautiful displays inside of the museum of every imaginable item that was used here over the towns lifespan, from shoes to bottles, carriages to coffins. It is worth a stroll through. It’s funny, for all the people wandering the streets few showed up in the pictures..truly a ghost town;)
It was a fascinating glimpse into the past, but going even further back into the past was the wonderful hike up Black Point beside Mono Lake and the lava fissures on the top of the hill.
Black Point is a volcano that erupted under the surface of Mono Lake more than 13,000 years ago near the end of the last ice age.As the lava cooled underwater the top split open to form several large cracks, slot canyons, measuring from 20-50 feet deep and some several hundred feet long. Black point is said to be the only underwater volcano fully exposed on earth.
Black Point can reached of off the Cemetery side road that goes from the US 395 to the County park heading East on a dirt road to a parking area where you can start your hike. The Mono Basin Scenic Visitor Center can supply a map of Black Point and some directions on how to get to the fissures.
We encountered a couple coming down who said they had a hard time finding the fissures and to climb to the very top to get to them, that was great advice.The walk up in the 85° heat was tough at first as your footing is pure sand..there are paths, dozens of them but nothing is marked and you just have to follow other’s footprints that meander in and around the sage bushes. As you climb the contour lines of the hill the views are spectacular. Negit Island, a cinder cone fills your view to the South East.
To the West the Sierra Nevada’s dominate the skyline. At Black Point’s peak of 6958 feet the views are beautiful.
Gradually the sand footing gives way to pebbles and solid rock underfoot. The footing can be tricky as it slides and gives way beneath your feet. Cottontails and Western jackrabbits dart to and fro as you make your way upward and westward.
We kept climbing and searching..mumbles about how nice a GPS would be were being muttered;)…I hate to give up when I’ve come this far. We climbed up to the highest ridge-line and headed West. We almost walked right by the entrance to the first fissure had it not been for all the footprints going in that direction as it was tucked in behind rocks and vegetation.
It was amazing, a crevice that at first started narrow and widened and narrowed again to the point you had to be sideways, as it continued on for quite a ways going deeper and down into the hill. The walls were story books with their layers of rock and small fossils in the sedimentation.
After enjoying the temperature change for awhile, the ranger said it could be up to 20° cooler in the fissures we had a drink of water, admired the view as we climbed out into the very bright sunlight and headed back down, the easy part. Glad we had persevered and kept looking.
These two day trips from Mono Lake are a wonderful way to see the diversity of the area. There is so much to see. With Yosemite so close it can be hard to choose which direction you want to go and explore each morning. Our only concern as the days went by was the increase in smoke from the forest fires in the southern Sierra Nevada’s. The mornings were cool and clear but as the day passed the winds whipped up and the smoke covered us.
We explored both Silver and June Lakes but the smoke was bad there as well so we decided to head East to Nevada and some clearer air…and some fascinating rock formations Mike had read about from the Tonopah Astronomy Club, Monte Cristos Castle..it sounded like a casino to me, being Nevada and all…but that, is another story.
Good bye Mono Lake..we will be back..