|Mount Whitney from the Alabama Hills in the Owens Valley|
|The Wheeler Crest from Bishop in the Owens Valley|
Sierra beyond Yosemite provides some of the most stunning scenery on the planet. On the previous day of our fall trip we had crossed the Sierra Nevada at Sonora Pass, and explored the ghost town of Bodie, but the sun was disappearing in the west by the time we arrived at our campsite in the little town of Bishop in the Owens Valley. For those on our trip who were seeing these lands for the first time, it was a revelation to wake up to the high remote ridges of granite and metamorphic rock that towered over the flat valley floor.
|Mt. Humphreys (13,996 feet) above Bishop, California in the Owens Valley|
The origin of the wonderful scenery is a two-edged sword, of course. The faults that formed the Owens Valley are still very active. In 1872, the Owens Valley fault was responsible for one of the biggest earthquakes in the state's recorded history. The magnitude 7.8 event killed 27 people (out of a total population of around 300), and shifted the ground dozens of feet along a scarp more than eighty miles long.
|The Palisades Group of peaks on the Sierra Crest from Sierra View in the White Mountains|
Later in the day we drove south to Lone Pine, which lies on the floor of the Owens Valley beneath Mt. Whitney, which at 14,505 feet is the highest point in the lower 48 states. After a number of stops, we ended up at an old mine, the Reward, and watched the sun sink over the high ridges.