Way back about a million years ago (that would be the start of April), I did that little trip to the Grand Canyon (see previous photo posts). On the way back, I met up with some other friends for a day and a bit, and we visited the Crowley Lake columns. I almost didn't write this up, because I'm not sure I want to call more attention and draw more traffic to the area. I will trust that my readers are not yahoos and will treat the Earth with kindness.

For a good explanation of the columns, check out this article. I know enough geology to have sussed out that they are volcanic in origin in some part, and must have had something to do with water. They are also available for study thanks to water--specifically, to the erosive action of waves on the shore of Crowley Lake, a man-made reservoir.

Access to the columns is by boat, by a 4- or 5-mile hike, or by 4WD, high-clearance vehicle (yes, this is one that really means it, not a road you can fudge with a Prius). Lucky for us, one of the friends I was with had such a vehicle, so we didn't have to do a long hike in the sun.

Enough words: Have some photos.

The columns are on the east shore of the lake, which means a good view of the Sierra. This is not the snowpack you want to see on April 6.

At low enough water, you can walk comfortably on the beach. The day we visited, some stretches were like this, with no way around except in the water. I was tempted to get wet but instead embraced the joys of rock-hopping.

We did the approach over the top of the banks, which revealed the tops of the columns.

Same thing from the beach side. These were the small bits.

Another journey over another bluff--necessary because the water was still kind of high--brought us to the larger caves and hollows.

"Caves" is a bit of an exaggeration, but you can get behind the posts. 

This might be a good time for a somewhat disgusting note, which you can consider a PSA: a fair number of people, apparently beyond clueless and/or unwilling to climb a few yards up into the sagebrush, have used the deeper "caves" as toilets. Nor do many even seem to have the courtesy to bury the waste. I'm sure I don't have to tell any of my readers, but this is NOT okay! Don't poop in caves and amazing natural formations. When you do poop in the wild, do it well away from trails and attractions, and bury your poop. Then pack out the TP. Carry a baggie for the purpose. It's especially important in this case: Crowley Lake is a reservoir. As in a source of water for human use. Triple yuck. Deal with your stuff properly or stay home. </rant>


A calm morning made for great reflections.

Mountain reflections, too. The columns continue for a long way along the shore, but they are smaller beyond the point where we stopped, not to mention the need for more climbing over bluffs and/or wading. We went back and had lunch, always a priority for me!

Nice end to a nice day, at my favorite campsite with a view of Mono Lake.

If you visit the columns, please respect the fragility of the area and the columns. These are not basalt--they are a fairly fragile construct of welded volcanic ash! 

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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