The Many Wonders of Mono Lake

I have had the pleasure of dipping my paddle into Mono Lake on three different occasions.  And, as it turns out, I’ve been in a different kayak each time too!

Mono Lake has one of the largest populations of migrating California Gulls.  Up until I visited Mono for the first time, I thought they were called Sea Gulls.  Hmm, turns out, a bird by that name doesn’t exist.  There are a few different varieties of Gulls, but no Sea Gulls!  Well, those pesky birds most of us are used to in the Bay Area as they beg for food are not anything like the beautiful Gulls you see while visiting Mono Lake.

Watching the Gulls run along the shoreline with their beaks wide open as they feast on flies.

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Or, watching them float on the water as they scarf up a few brine shrimp.

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Brine shrimp?  Yes, gazillions of them!  In fact, they are the same freeze dried squares of fish food you might pick up at your local Aquarium store, or maybe you were lucky to have been giving Sea Monkeys as a gift when you were a kid?  Well, the Gulls and other migratory birds common to Mono Lake will make these Brine shrimp as part of their daily diet while here.

If you arrive early enough, which I highly recommend you do to avoid high winds that can be quite treacherous, you will be rewarded with beautiful mirrored reflections of the Tufa, Mountains in the background, or even the moon.

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As you paddle around South Tufa, the most popular, you’ll witness Osprey flying overhead and landing in the nests built high above the water, on the Tufa ‘towers’.  I counted at least three little chicks while visiting this past July.  How many do you count?

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Here’s mom or dad keeping a watchful eye on us as we paddle by.

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My first time paddling here was in July 2011.  The water quite a bit higher and our group had the luxury of paddling East from Navy Beach about a mile or so, and exploring some Tufa towers that are no longer in the water.  Debbie was in her 9 foot Otter for this trip!

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Of all the years I’ve been paddling, I think this is by far my most favorite picture.  The bubbles, the birds and just the color of this picture are amazing.

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If you have a bucket list, this has to be on it.  Whether you paddle or just explore by foot, there is a lot of history here.  The lake didn’t always look like this and it always won’t.  Water levels could continue to drop, or we could have a few very wet winters and levels could rise.  Be sure to stop by the Mono Lake Visitors Center, located off Hwy 395 near the town of Lee Vining.  There are park rangers who will be more than grateful to share what they know.

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