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Results are in for the 37th annual Tioga Pass Run

Saturday, September 16th, 2017 by Michael, Mono Lake Intern
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Last Sunday, September 10, 132 runners and walkers challenged themselves to ascend the 12.4 miles of the Tioga Pass during this year’s annual Tioga Pass Run. This was another successful year for the epic event, where the participants start in front of the Mono Lake Committee in Lee Vining and finish at the entrance to Yosemite National Park, gaining 3,165 feet of elevation along the way to the top.

Runners make their way up Highway 120 west with the horizon dominated by the Dana Plateau. Photo by Bartshe Miller.

Kenny Palmer of Mammoth Lakes won the overall race this year with a time of 1:37:31. Jessica Francois, a Lee Vining local and (more…)

An intern’s goodbye to Mono Lake

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017 by Charlotte, Mono Lake Intern
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With college starting soon, I have to say goodbye to Mono Lake a little earlier than my other seasonal coworkers. This summer has been one of the best of my life, so it will be a bittersweet goodbye. As a final goodbye to this amazing corner of the world, here are some of my favorite photos and memories from this summer.

Mono Lake Intern Charlotte standing by the bronze bear in Lee Vining. Photo by Aviva North.

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Observing four years of an ever-changing Mono Lake

Monday, August 21st, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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June 2014—Mono Lake level: 6380.4 feet above sea level

One of my first visits to Mono Lake on a full moon in 2014. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Just three years ago, during the middle of California’s historic drought, I visited Mono Lake for the first time. The large, salty lake in the middle of the high desert amazed me and I vividly remember admiring the incredible tufa towers for the first time one summer evening. That was before I worked for the Mono Lake Committee, before I understood the significance of Mono Lake’s level, and the last time I would see the lake with that much water until this month (August 2017). (more…)

Explore Lundy Canyon with a guide during Saturday morning bird walks

Friday, August 11th, 2017 by Jenny, Birding Intern
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We hope you can join us for one of the new Lundy Canyon bird walks this year—on Saturdays at 7:30am. There is so much to see in Lundy Canyon, it really is one of the gems of the Eastern Sierra. I’ve put together this collection of photos from the 2017 season so far, and hope it inspires you to join us!

Lundy Canyon is home to some of the Eastern Sierra’s best birds, wildflowers, and waterfalls along Mill Creek, which flows down the canyon and into Mono Lake.

White rein orchid (Plantanthera leucostachys) blooming along Mill Creek in Lundy Canyon. Photo by Jennifer Rieke.

Nestled in the eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada, Lundy Canyon is a high-elevation canyon rising from Lundy Lake at 7,858 feet above sea level to the 11,770-foot Black Mountain. (more…)

Learn more on a Mono Lake Committee field seminar

Monday, August 7th, 2017 by Andrew, Digital Engagement Coordinator
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Have you ever wanted to learn more about the birds that migrate through the Mono Basin, experience Mono Lake by moonlight, learn about the ecosystem impacts of recent fires, or find the best places to see the aspen leaves turn gold in the fall? Mono Lake Committee field seminars offer something for everyone—whether you’re just here for a short time and want to spend a half day with an expert instructor or if you’ll be here longer for one of our three-day seminars. There are still over 20 field seminars you can register for through October. Read more about all the seminars that still have space below.

August

There are still over 20 field seminars you can register for through October, including Geology of the Mono Basin with Greg Stock. Photo by Andrew Youssef.

(more…)

Scaling back the fence thanks to a rising Mono Lake

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017 by Jenny, Birding Intern
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I recently had the opportunity to go out to the landbridge to help with maintenance of the gull fence. I woke up at 5:00am in order to get out there in time, and by 6:30am we were ready to head out, chest waders and all.

The north shore of the landbridge is a surreal, other-worldly landscape. Photo by Jennifer Rieke.

This was my first time to the north shore of Mono Lake and it was quite a contrast to the scenic southern shore I am used to. With Black Point behind us, we trudged over salt flats towards Negit Island. Passing skeletons of last year’s giant blazing stars and coyote scat, we approached the electric fence when suddenly I heard it—the clamor of the gull colony! I put my binoculars up to see the islets overflowing with California Gulls. This was a place I had only imagined in my mind, and now it was coming to life. (more…)

See Mono Lake’s rise on the landbridge

Friday, June 30th, 2017 by Arya, Communications Director
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The landbridge is a particularly excellent place to see Mono Lake’s incredibly fast rise right now (click on the images for larger versions):

Dawn on June 15 out on the landbridge, where Mono Lake lapped at the end of the temporary electrified fence that is protecting the nesting California Gull colony from coyote predation. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

Twelve days later Mono Lake had risen over half a foot, and it was time for the end of the fence to be adjusted. Mono Lake Committee wildlife camera photo.

Mono Lake has risen 2.8 feet so far this calendar year and is projected to rise another 1.5 feet by year’s end.

Time lapse: Mono Lake rising

Thursday, June 29th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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Want to see Mono Lake rising before your eyes? Check out this time lapse from May 25 to June 25, when the lake rose an incredible 1.2 vertical feet!

You’ll see wildlife along the shore investigating the changing habitat as lagoons form, tufa blocks get submerged, and the grass floods. You might also notice that the lake rise speeds up in early June, when warm weather started melting snow in the high country more quickly, sending record volumes of water down the streams and to the lake.

Mono Lake has risen 2.8 feet so far this calendar year and is projected to rise another 1.5 feet by year’s end. It’s a remarkable time to be at Mono Lake when it’s rising so fast—make plans to visit this summer and see for yourself!

When will Tioga Pass open? Here’s our office poll….

Monday, June 26th, 2017 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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The Tioga Pass area on the summer solstice, June 20, 2017. Photo by Robbie Di Paolo.

The question of the year so far is “When will Tioga Pass open?” Your guess is as good as ours. In fact, here’s the office poll—compare your guess to ours!

  • Jess: June 16 soft opening; June 17 official
  • Elin: June 23 at noon
  • Bartshe: June 23
  • Ellen: June 24
  • Nora: June 26
  • Gabby: June 27
  • Greg: June 28 at noon
  • Lisa: June 29
  • Arya: June 30
  • Andrew: June 30
  • Geoff: July 1
  • Julissa: July 6

At 9,945 feet above sea level, Tioga Pass is the highest point on Highway 120 and the California State Highway system. There are 26 avalanche zones that this year had snowdrifts upwards of 50 feet, often concealing rocks and trees. Once the road is clear of snow, crews must repair any damage to the pavement, shoulders, and guardrails. The latest Tioga Pass opening date was July 8, 1933, and the earliest was April 29, 1988 … we’re all wondering what it will be this year!

Updated on Tuesday, June 27 at 4:30pm to add that it looks like Lisa will be the winner, unless we get a strange summer snowstorm!

From East Coast to West Coast

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 by Michael, Mono Lake Intern
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After hearing about Mono Lake from a former intern, I had to check out the area for myself.

This year’s seasonal staff get an orientation to the Mono Basin’s complex plumbing from Executive Director Geoff McQuilkin, center. Photo by Michael Morris.

I was raised in Massachusetts and was lucky enough to attend college at the University of Vermont, but I had never traveled west past South Dakota before! The aspect that I love most about my time so far in the Mono Basin is how new everything is, from the massive mountains to the crazy weather. Here are some photos from my first few weeks as a summer intern: (more…)

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