Beginning Sunday morning, GeoJourney drove from our campsite near Mammoth Lakes, California and headed across the Owens Valley up into the White Mountains. In the midst of Inyo National Forest, we explored the ancient forest of bristlecone pines that thrive in the dolomite-rich substrate. Using dendrochronology, or tree-ring dating, these trees have been very useful for dating archaeological sites and the climate of long ago. The oldest bristlecone pine, named Methuselah, has been dated to over 4,700 years old.
The rest of our day was spent in the Owens Valley near Bishop, California, where the students learned about water issues that Bishop faces as it has supplied Los Angeles with Owens River water for many decades. We also explored the local geology and how past glacial and volcanic activity has shaped the region. Making our way back into the eastern Sierra Nevada’s, students learned about glacial features such as moraines, cirques, arrêtes, and horns. At Hot Creek, we got a preview of what Yellowstone will look like when we got to see a hydrothermal feature caused by underlying volcanic activity. Tomorrow we will be in Yosemite National Park by way of Mono Lake.