A Landing a Day

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Bishop, Big Pine and the High Sierras, California

Posted by graywacke on May 19, 2016

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-four-or-five days blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some recent changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2268; A Landing A Day blog post number 698.

Dan:  This is my fourth California landing since changing my random lat/long procedure, and it was just enough to nudge CA from USer to OSer (of course, making my Score go up).  Curious as to what I’m talking about, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”  If you want the whole scoop, check out “About Landing.”

Here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my local landing map:

landing 2

My streams-only map:

landing 3a

You can see that I landed in the watershed of Lamarck Creek, on to the Middle Fork of Bishop Creek; on to Bishop Ck.  Zooming back:

landing 3b

The Bishop makes its way to the Owens River (3rd hit).  The Owens is internally drained (note that it just dead-ends on the above map) and used to discharge to and maintain Owens Lake (nowhere to be seen on the above map).  But these days, Owens Lake is a shadow of its former self (more about this in a minute).   You can see I highlighted the Los Angeles Aqueduct.  More about this coming as well.

It’s time for my Google Earth (GE) spaceflight in to E-Cen CA and the High Sierras.  Click HERE, enjoy the trip, and click your back button.

Here’s an oblique GE shot, looking east down to Upper Lamarck lake (into which runoff from my landing site obviously goes):

ge landing looking east

But the more spectacular view is this one, looking west towards the spine of the High Sierras:

ge landing looking west

Pretty cool, eh?  By the way, the Sierra Nevada range stretches a long way north, past Lake Tahoe.  But the highest part of the Sierra Nevada (aka the High Sierras) are in the southern part of the range (which includes the vicinity of my landing down to Mount Whitney, about 50 miles south).

I have no decent Street View shot of my landing, but I could find a shot of the Middle Fork of the Bishop Creek:

ge sv mfbc map

And here’s what the orange dude sees (looking downstream):

ge sv mfbc down

And looking upstream:

ge sv mfbc up

So, Bishop Creek flows to the Owens River.  Here’s an Owens River watershed map from Wiki:

OwensRiverMap DEMIS Mapserver modified by Shannon1

At least this map shows Owens Lae.  And here’s what Wiki has to say:

In the early 1900s the Owens was the focus of the California Water Wars, fought between the city of Los Angeles and the inhabitants of Owens Valley over the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Obviously, LA won:

Since 1913, the Owens River has been diverted to Los Angeles, causing the ruin of the valley’s economy and the drying of Owens Lake.

Sometimes Wiki sounds like an editorial page (“the ruin of the valley’s economy . . .”).

Perusing GE, I found where the Owens is diverted to the LA Aqueduct:

ge aqueduct 1


Here’s a close-up:

ge aqueduct 2


And a Pano shot by Bruce Bernard of the Aqueduct:

pano bruce bernard aqueduct

Here’s some Wiki info on Owens Lake:

Unlike most dry lakes in the Basin and Range Province that have been dry for thousands of years, Owens held significant water until 1913, when much of the Owens River was diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, causing Owens Lake to dry up by 1926.  Today, some of the flow of the river has been restored, and the lake now contains some water. Nevertheless, as of 2013, it is the largest single source of dust pollution in the United States.

Before the diversion of the Owens River, Owens Lake was up to 12 miles long and 8 miles wide, covering an area of up to 108 square miles. In the last few hundred years before the diversion, the lake had an average depth of 23 to 50 feet.

Here’s a Pano shot (by Eric Cobb) of Owens Lake today:

pano eric cobb

There you have it.

Switching to the town of Bishop website:

By 1905, the City of Los Angeles and all of Southern California was growing so rapidly it was running out of water.  Agents of the City of Los Angeles came to the Owens Valley and recognized it as source of water that could fuel that city’s rapid growth.  With the cooperation of the federal government, Los Angeles had acquired enough water rights and property and constructed an aqueduct so that it began exporting water from the Owens Valley to Los Angeles in 1913.

The acquisition of these rights and the export of the water led many to believe the valley had been betrayed.  The battle between the Owens Valley and Los Angeles for control of the valley and its water is famous in the west and the subject of written works and movies.  Today, the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power – known as DWP – own the vast majority of the floor of the Owens Valley including around and in the City of Bishop.

Remember – this is the Bishop town website.  I’d say there’s bitterness to this day . . .

Moving south to Big Pine, from Wiki:

Big Pine has a significant geologic feature (an earthquake scarp) related to the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake.

So here’s some information about the quake from Wiki:

The 1872 Lone Pine earthquake struck on March 26 with an estimated magnitude of 7.4 to 7.9. Its epicenter was near Lone Pine, California in Owens Valley. Historical evidence detailing the damage it caused, fault scarps, and the geographic extent to which noticeable movement was felt led researchers to the high magnitude estimate. It was one of the largest earthquakes to hit California in recorded history and was similar in size to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The earthquake resulted from sudden vertical movement of 15–20 feet and right-lateral movement of 35–40 feet on the Lone Pine Fault and part of the Owens Valley Fault. This particular event created fault scarps from north of Big Pine (55 mi north of Lone Pine), to 30 mi south of Lone Pine.

Here’s a picture of the scarp (from Wiki), which is the rocky slope in front of the person:


So that slope didn’t exist prior to the earthquake, and then it just popped up!

Back to the Wiki write-up:

The earthquake occurred on a Tuesday morning and leveled almost all the buildings in Lone Pine and nearby settlements.  Of the estimated 250–300 inhabitants of Lone Pine, 27 are known to have perished and 52 of the 59 houses were destroyed.

The quake was felt strongly as far away as Sacramento, where citizens were startled out of bed and into the streets. Giant rockslides in what is now Yosemite National Park woke naturalist John Muir, then living in Yosemite Valley, who reportedly ran out of his cabin shouting, “A noble earthquake!” and promptly made a moonlit survey of the fresh talus piles.

The shock was felt over most of California and much of Nevada. Thousands of aftershocks occurred, some severe.

All right.  Time for some GE Panoramio shots all from within a measley 1.5 miles of my landing!  These are all lake shots; here’s a GE shot with the lakes labeled:

ge pano shots

And to give you a sense of topography, here’s an oblique shot (looking west):

ge pano shots2

Even though the Wonder Lakes aren’t far, it would be quite the challenge to walk from my landing over the ridge to the lakes.

Anyway, I’ll start with Grass Lake, about 1.5 miles east of my landing. 

By Backpacknaked:

pano backpacknaked

By Maujds:

pano maujds

Moving to the Lower Lamarck Lake (less than a mile east of my landing).  By Duano:

pano Duane-O lower lamarck

By Jotakipik:

pano jotakipik lower lamarck

And now to Wonder Lakes (less than a mile northeast of my landing).  By Cam Stone:

pano cam stone

Also Cam Stone:

pano cam stone 2

Karen Najarian:

pano karen najarian

Professor Frink:

pano professor_frink

And we’ll close with Upper Lamarck Lake, adjacent to my landing.  By David Smeeth:

pano david e smeeth 2

Also by David Smeeth:

pano david e smeeth almost tropical

And finally, this by Bensz86 (with my landing somewhere in the upper right):

pano bensz86 lamarck lake 1


That’ll do it . . .




© 2016 A Landing A Day

One Response to “Bishop, Big Pine and the High Sierras, California”

  1. Jordan said

    Cool! I’m sure you were expecting this one to be a good’un when you saw where you landed. And yes, I’m this far behind….

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