I’d always thought that the term “tufa” applied only to the unique features found at Mono Lake but I was sorely mistaken. The porous rock pinnacles began to grow skyward — some to as high as 140 feet above the surrounding valley as springs bubbled up through land then covered water, leaving deposits of mineral-rich material that continued to grow in height over time.
Beginning perhaps 100,000 years ago when the area was filled with a series of interconnected lakes that stretched from Owens Lake to Death Valley, calcium-rich groundwater and alkaline lake water combined to build a city of cathedrals, spires, towers, ridges and shorter, stubby formations that have become known as the Trona tombstones.
It is early February, a weekday, and after a scattering of tourists have moved on I find myself alone out here as the sun filters through the evening haze, turning the pinnacles a golden yellow. This is a good place for reflection, thinking for a bit of earth-time …. of a scale of time necessary for all that has been created to have been done at precisely this time so that I might experience all for myself.