The Newest Volcano

130216010BW Panum Crater

The Mono Basin will be a recurring topic in this blog throughout the year. It is my favorite place in the world. My first visit was with a photography workshop in October 1984 led by Al Weber and was an experience unto itself. We camped at Lundy Canyon and the overnight temperature dropped to 16 degrees.  We froze, cameras froze, film froze and cars wouldn’t start but it was a great introduction to a place that has since become my true home.

What I experienced, besides the cold was a beauty like I had never seen. Sunrises and sunsets beyond belief with colors that were unsurpassed even in the Arizona desert from which I had just moved. The aspens ranged from red to gold and the sky was a deep blue.

I was in the Mono Basin again this past weekend having planned to spend several days snowshoeing and photographing. There was no snow and at first I was really disappointed. My brand new snowshoes remained in their package with all of the tags still on.  Instead, it was warm and the light was superb. All of the conditions were right for image making. It was a perfect opportunity to hike around the rim of Panum Crater, a rhyolitic volcano that erupted just 600 years ago, the newest volcano in the Mono Craters, the youngest mountain range in North America.  The rim of the caldera has a narrow trail and the core is a plug consisting mostly of obsidian and pumice.

As I almost always do, I used a tripod. A long lens was required from where I made the photograph making the tripod extremely important for stability. I opted to use black and white because of the texture and varying tonalities of the crater. Color would have added nothing.

If you visit the Mono Basin, bring your hiking boots, camera and a tripod and experience the newest volcano in a place like no other.  

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