Crowley Lake Columns, Oct. 30, 2021

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
Driving into Mammoth Thursday night we noticed how low the level of Crowley Lake was. This reminded us that we could check out the Crowley Lake columns, which are usually completely below waterline only in late summer/early autumn when we are seldom at Mammoth. So after a full day of skiing Friday we had a relaxing Saturday morning and got parked just past the Crowley Lake dam about 11:30. On most of the walk there's a great view of Mammoth Mountain and the Minarets.
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With a high clearance vehicle you can drive to the bluff overlooking the columns but I wasn't trying that with the Tesla.
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So we had a 2 mile walk on the road, before following the trail down to the shoreline.
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Closer view from above:
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The volcanic columns were buried in sandstone but are exposed by wind from above or the lake waters after the L.A. Aqueduct was built.

The normal lake level leaves a watermark in line with Liz' head here.
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View from inside the columns:
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There were maybe 10 other hikers, so easy to get someone to take this pic.
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Moving farther north along the east shore:
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Here the columns have been exposed from above but not much by the water.
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We don't know what the plants are.

We approach the last point visible from the trail.
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Column inside the cave:
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That column was actually attached to the wall behind it.

Around that point, the columns extend quite a bit further, but this is as far as we walked.
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On the way back, here's an overview of the columns mostly eroded from above.
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The trail ascends to the left of this wall.
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This cave was a short walk south.
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The beach was deserted just before we left.
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Leaving Crowley Lake, its spillway is visible here, well above waterline.
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It's rare to see fall foliage on the way home from a Mammoth ski trip.
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This was at the bottom of Sherwin Grade at about 5,000 feet.
 

jimk

Member
Interesting geology! The spirals on those columns look like the work of ancient aliens :-k
 

Tony Crocker

Administrator
Staff member
jamesdeluxe said:
Interesting. Who knew?
I've been going up there since 1978 and only learned about the Crowley columns a couple of years ago. The precise hexagonal columns of Devil's Postpile are far more famous.
 
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