Grand Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Owens Lake, and the Environment

The Grand Canyon is a geological icon for all to visit!  Not to mention, eye candy for any and all geologists.  It has ALL three rock types (igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary) AND basement rocks, visible.  Its impossible to comprehend the beauty of this magical place from books, articles, or web articles.  Although, some photographers have captured some magnificent photos of this stunning place!  However, its not the same – looking at it from a photo versus your own eyes.  It is a must see for yourself!  There is nothing like staring at the Canyon and absorbing the reds (sandstone rocks – sedimentary), whites (limestone rocks – sedimentary), and darkish blacks (basement rocks) alternating layers with your own eyes, while gazing up and down the Canyon.

Grand Canyon during our visit while full time rving the country.

Grand Canyon picture near sunrise April 2019.

We visited the south rim, the most popular tourist side of the Canyon.  There is so much to visit and see on this side.  If you’re into capturing sunrise and sunset photos, this is the place for that!  There are many viewing points to stop at, as well as a visitors center, museums, and other interesting facilities.  Not to mention, there are plenty of hiking trails to endure.  WARNING: if you’re planning on doing a hike into the Canyon, please be very aware of YOUR physical condition (are you in good physical condition to embark upon such a hike), clothing attire, and above all bring a LOT of water and health food snacks.  Many people mistakenly underestimate the elevation changes, are not acclimated to the elevation changes or the hot Arizonan sun.  The sun plus subjecting your body to such elements (elevation changes, scorching sun rays, cooler winter/spring breeze) while adding physical exercise can be a recipe for disaster.  Please be cautious about this and speak with a Ranger at Grand Canyon before you go hiking into the Canyon.  Park Rangers were super friendly and more than willing to help and guide you.  Take advantage of their assistance and guidance.

While full time RVing the country we stopped at the Grand Canyon for some sunrise pictures.

Grand Canyon sunrise during our stay April 2019.

The north rim is harder to visit because it typically doesn’t open until much later into the spring/summer season.  This was definitely added to the bucket list of places to visit.

Grand Canyon sunrise photo, April 2019 while full time RVing the country.Beautiful Grand Canyon picture from one of the many viewing areas, April 2019.

The next place we moseyed onto was the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  The view is absolutely stunning!

 

The amazing Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, absolutely stunning picture of the mountains.

The spot we called home for some nights, came with a creek running behind our RV.  I have to admit, its tranquil to fall asleep to the sound of flowing water.  Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48, is very impressive!  Its very interesting how the geology of Mt. Whitney looks drastically different than the geology at the surrounding Alabama Hills.

 

The RV and the Honda sitting in our campsite with the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background.

Owens Lake is nestled in this area, and of coarse I took the opportunity to visit it.  As I laid eyes upon this once shimmering lake, I felt disappointed that I was gazing upon the devastation humans can have on our environment.  Its dreadful seeing for myself, the impact we humans can have, on this massive scale.

 

Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background with Owens Lake in the foreground.

The Owens Valley was once a lush agricultural gem in its prime!  It was a place where farmers grew fruit orchards and other stables of food production; and engaged in cattle ranching.  Until one day, in the early 1900s, an engineer came to the Owens Valley from Los Angeles in search of water.  He laid eyes upon the Owens River which appeared to supply a vast quantity of water, perhaps a never ending supply of it, so he thought.  Instantly, he knew what he had to do.  He orchestrated the largest construction of an aqueduct the region has ever seen, transporting water almost 200 hundred miles to supply Los Angeles with water.  Never mind the misuse of water habits Los Angeles developed that caused her to run out of water in the first place, or the fact that the water in the Owens Valley belonged to someone else.

 

Owens lake is dry although it was once a massive lake until LA took all the water for themselves.

And so construction of the aqueduct began in 1904 and was completed in 1913.  By 1924, 11 years later, Owens Lake dried up into a dried lake bed as a result of Los Angeles diverting 62 miles of the Owens River.  Orchards dried up, and cattle ranching halted.  Residents of the Owens Valley has little to no more water left and the area slowly was turning into a desolate abandoned area.  Unfortunately, I never located the aqueduct, so I wasn’t able to see it for myself.

What is even more jaw dropping, and head swaying back and forth in disappointment, is that there is a water bottling company planted just south of the Lake. Yes, really.  The water rights wars between Los Angeles and the Inyo County continues on today.  In the end, the Owens River was not enough water to quench Los Angeles’ thirst as she continues to seek diverting water from elsewhere.

Today, dust is a considerable problem because of the dried lake bed.  This place is evidence of the great lengths humans will go to, to secure the basic elements of life.  It is a complicated story, one that meshes together human survival needs, ethical dilemmas (including wealth and power), and the unrecognizable balance between humans being apart of this earth’s ecology.

While visiting the Grand Canyon, I could not believe the amount of garbage that was flying around. The park did its best to keep it clean as well as provide trash cans all over the park, but to some people that doesn’t matter. They will place their garbage on the ground and walk away like nothing happened.  If we ALL did our part.  Think about it.  Pause for a second and really ponder this.

If we ALL curbed our garbage consumption, water consumption, food consumption, housing and land consumption.  What if we didn’t have to find a place to put and store our garbage (not in backyard)?  What if we didn’t have massive giant floating “land garbage” islands swimming around our oceans?  What if our surface water supplies weren’t contaminated such that it corrodes the piping systems causing other compounds to leach out of the pipes on its way to the faucet?  What if we didn’t have to fight for water?  What if we had electronics and home appliances and vehicles that lasted for years and years?  What if we didn’t have species on the Endangered Species list?  What if people didn’t have to wear masks because the smog is so bad?  What if our surface waters did not receive other compounds from air deposition?

Are you pausing and thinking about it?  What a world it would be!

As we wondered through the forest one day, we came upon this…

A car abandoned and stripped surrounded by tons of garbage out in the middle of the forest.

Which prompted this environmental rant.

2 Replies to “Grand Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Owens Lake, and the Environment”

  1. Good post! Very interesting about Owen’s lake, water will become more and more of an issue! The grand canyon is amazing and awe inspiring.

    1. Thank you Karen! Oh yes, water will become a maddening issue, if we aren’t careful. Many, many people take it for granted. I’ll admit, the Grand Canyon is one of my favorites!

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