EXPLORING MAMMOTH LAKES, DEVILS POSTPILE

Heading south…

TOUR OF THE SIERRA NEVADAS, DAY 9

September 13, 2017

Mammoth Lakes, California California flag

EXPLORING MAMMOTH LAKES, DEVILS POSTPILE

Lakes Mary, Maime, Horseshoe

Today was supposed to be the day we try to catch our breath after the whirlwind tour of the Sierra Nevadas and the Grand Tetons. So we only drove our to some of the local points of interest in the Mammoth Lakes district. Like Lakes, Mary, Maime and Horseshoe. And the Devils Postpile.

The first thing we realized was that there is no such thing as a Mammoth Lake, as we had mistakenly assumed. Mammoth is the name of the mountain. There are over 100 lakes in the Mammoth Lakes basin.

Mammoth Lakes is also the name of a town in which we are staying. In winter, this is a ski haven with dozens and dozens of ski runs and gondolas.

The town is surrounded by acres of forest and is bordered by the Ansel Adams and John Muir Wilderness Areas. The eastern entrance of Yosemite National Park is located 32 miles (51 km) north of town, but is not accessible by road.

So instead of looking for a Mammoth Lake, we visited this morning Lakes Horseshoe, Mamie and Mary – all three at an elevation of just under 9,000 ft.

We also did a little hike from Lake Mamie to Lake Mary and chatted with some of about a dozen or so fishermen (and women) along the shore. One them had just caught a 4-pound trout and sounded rather proud of it.

Devils Postpile

Ever heard of Devils’ Postpile? Or that it is a National Park?

We had not. Not until yesterday, when a ranger at the Mammoth Lakes station told us about it.

As soon as I saw a picture of this unique rock formation, I was reminded of the Giant Causeway in Northern Ireland. The ranger also knew about it and confirmed the likeness. Except that the former is deep in the mountains of Sierra Nevadas, while the latter is on the north shore of Northern Ireland.

These vertical, hexagonally shaped rocks, which look like giant columns of some ancient castle, were created by the cooling of the lava. They were exposed to view during the ice age. The Irish Giant Causeway columns were formed 5,000 miles to the east of the Sierra Nevadas in exact same way – the cooling of the lava some 50 to 60 million years ago (see http://www.amusingplanet.com/2010/10/curious-rock-formation-of-giant.html).

Wonders of nature…

The Irish Giant Causeway has been officially named the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Wonder why the Devils Postpile was not included?

WHAT IS A POSTPILE?

What remained a mystery to Elizabeth and me is why someone deemed appropriate to name them “postpiles.”

Yes, they look like posts. And yes, the also look like piles on which docks, houses or other structures are sometimes built. But why join these words together, and then add the adjective “devils” to the name?

Oh, well, some mysteries shall remain mysteries. 🙂

So early this afternoon, Elizabeth and I undertook a fairly long drive on the backroads of the Mammoth mountain to this unique place in the Sierra Nevadas, or even the US. Along the way, we caught some gorgeous panoramic views of the Sierra Nevadas.

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Tour of Sierra Nevadas header

 

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