Road Trip: Journey to the Center of the Earth! Watch your step!

One wrong move here and you're playing poker with Satan!

One wrong move here and you’re playing poker with Satan!

There is so much to see along Hwy 395, we do something different every time we go down that way. This time we did a lot of hiking, tried to see some of the remainders of the incredible volcanic activities that drove California up out of the ocean and made the Sierra Nevada out of beach front property.

We weren’t looking for the fault line but we happened to drive across it on the road to a popular tourist attraction – the picture above was taken from the car, from the little tiny asphalt highway leading into the parking lot of the Devil’s Postpile Monument near Mammoth Lakes.  They just poured in a lot of cement and paved over it, I guess that works.  This is only a teeeny crack anyway.  There’s a parking lot and a trail leading along the fault, and it gets reeeeealllly big as you walk along.

I took this picture from the trail off the main highway - there's my husband and full-grown son standing up there to the top right - like, don't fall in!

I took this picture from the trail off the main highway – there’s my husband and full-grown son standing up there to the top right, dwarfed by this ginormous gouge in the Earth’s crust.

There were little cracks leading to the big crack from all around the area.

I don't want to have my car parked here in the next earthquake.

I don’t want to have my car parked here in the next earthquake.

 

This was the Inyo Fault, you know, California is sliced up like a box cake at a picnic, cracks everywhere. Of course our geological history is pretty violent, and this area was full of the evidence of our creation.

These beautiful columns were formed underground and exposed about 10,000 years ago when this valley was full of a glacier.

These beautiful columns were formed underground and exposed about 10,000 years ago when this valley was full of a glacier.

The Devil’s Postpile is incredible, something worth driving a windy little road and hiking a dusty trail to see. The columns are nothing short of majestic, and the loosely strewn blocks at the base of the 101 foot cliff are there to show you exactly how huge these monoliths are.

These blocks are pieces of columns fallen loose in many many earthquakes.

These blocks are pieces of columns fallen loose in many many earthquakes.

Here's a section of basalt column that somehow managed to stay intact - about 15 feet long, probably 20 inches in diameter, and look how perfect the sides are formed.

Here’s a section of basalt column that somehow managed to stay intact when it fell from who knows where – about 15 feet long, probably 20 inches in diameter, and look how perfect the sides are formed.

The trail was a loop, from across the base of the cliff, up and over the top, and down again to the parking lot. It had some steep sections, but nothing a person of good health couldn’t handle. We saw a lot of people over 60 years of age and a lot of lap dogs, trotting along the trail.  The base of the cliff is only a quarter mile from the parking lot. The trail up the side of the cliff seems steep, might give you a flush face, but wow, is it ever worth it.

Here's where the glacier that carved these columns free of tons of sand and boulders scraped the tops of the columns so smooth and shiny you'd think a crew of workman with power tools were air lifted up here and worked at it for  a year.

Here’s where the glacier that carved these columns free of tons of sand and boulders scraped the tops of the columns so smooth and shiny you’d think a crew of workman with power tools were air lifted up here and worked at it for a year.

This is so smooth I couldn't help but run my hand over it. It feels polished.

This is so smooth I couldn’t help but run my hand over it. It feels polished.

All around us, spectacular, grandiose, majestic vistas, everywhere. This is a huge country, a cradle of our planet, where mountains are born and gigantic trees twist their way through solid rock to climb toward the sun.

It's not hard to believe at one time Devil's Postpile was part of Yosemite National Park.

It’s not hard to believe at one time Devil’s Postpile was part of Yosemite National Park.

For a desert, this area seems water rich, creeks and rivers crisscut the terrain, hot springs, and areas where willows, aspens and poplars pop up out of the rock.

For a desert, this area seems water rich, creeks and rivers crisscut the terrain, hot springs, and areas where willows, aspens and poplars pop up out of the rock.

These pretty trees indicate where there is groundwater beneath the sand and sagebrush.

These pretty trees indicate where there is groundwater beneath the sand and sagebrush.

Here is a baby Toyon tree.

Here is a baby Toyon tree.

A mighty Toyon from a tiny pine nut grows. That's not a matchbox toy, that's my SUV.

A mighty Toyon from a tiny pine nut grows. That’s not a matchbox toy, that’s my SUV.

 

The desert is full of surprises – wear good shoes, and a hat, and take at least 8 ounces of water. 

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