Archive for July 2nd, 2007

Karen at Devils Postpile

Originally uploaded by karing1960@sbcglobal.net.

For the past two years, Mike and I have wanted to go visit The Devil’s Postpile in Mammoth Lakes. But due to there still being snow in the higher elevations in June, we were not able to do so until this year. And what a trip it was! What is the Devil’s Postpile?

Geologists say that fewer than 100,000 years ago, basalt lava erupted two miles upstream from today’s postpile. The lava flowed into the valley and pooled to a depth of 400 feet. The mass of molten lava then began to cool uniformly from top to bottom.

As it cooled and contracted, stresses built up in the basalt rock causing it to fracture. Each crack branched when it reached a length of about 10 inches, joining other cracks to form a pattern on the surface of the flow. Under ideal conditions, surface cracks deepened to create the vertical, hexagonal columns you see today.

Some 10,000 years ago a glacier flowed down the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River and overrode the Postpile formation. The moving ice quarried away one side of the postpile, exposing a sheer wall of columns 60 feet high. Evidence of the glacier – the polishing and scratches of glacial ice – remains atop the postpile.

Before arriving in Mammoth Lakes, we learned that you have to take a shuttle bus down to the trail head on a one-lane, precarious, narrow mountain road. The scenery going down was beautiful, but always in the back of my mind was the fact that there was a 3,000 foot drop-off just inches away. Whew! Was I happy when we made it to the bottom. The hike to the Postpile was only about a half a mile or so and quite pleasant with a meandering river and the sound of Rainbow Falls cascading in the background. When we reached Devil’s Postpile, it was every bit as ominous and fantastic as the photos I had seen. I looked in awe at the hundreds of postpiles lined up like a fence, and many others fallen down near my feet. Mike & I decided we were not going to let the Devil get the better of us. We hiked up and over the postpile victorious in our conquest! It made me think of the scripture in Romans 16:20 that says, “The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.” Mike and I just got a little headstart!


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