I’ve been on several trips to Conglomerate Mesa in the spring, but never in the winter. In Fact, this was the first winter trip to Conglomerate Mesa for all of us. Since we had just hired Bryan Hatchell as Friends of the Inyo’s Desert Lands Organizer, we planned a trip to the Mesa with the goal of further familiarizing ourselves with the area and to scope for a potential outing in the near future. Conglomerate Mesa is an approximate 7,000 acre area between the Malpais Mesa Wilderness to the south and the Cerro Gordo Mine to the north. Read on for a photo tour of our trip:
From Owens Valley, we drive East on the 190 and turn north off the paved road. Only a few miles in we can see the eastern edge of the Mesa towering over Santa Rosa Flat.
Driving north through Lee Flat, we could see the snow-dusted Inyo Mountains through a forest of Joshua trees.
As we near the Mesa we can see the transition of vegetation from Joshua tree to pinion trees and sage.
We start our hike from the wash and make our way up the hill along the faint trail.
Right off the trail is a marker for a mining claim. Jora points it out and stops to read the information.
It’s a short hike from the wash to the top of the Mesa, about a mile up the winding trail. We had the pleasure of making some fresh tracks in the slushy snow.
This Joshua tree happens to be growing right next to the trail. This is an example of how the Joshua trees are regenerating in the area. Scientists argue that due to global climate change, Joshua trees are threatened by habitat loss. Conglomerate Mesa is arguably an area where the trees may be moving to higher elevations before our very eyes.
From the top of the “saddle” you have views of Death Valley National Park.
To the east are views of Conglomerate Mesa, the Malpais Mesa Wilderness, the Owens Valley, while the Sierra Nevada sit off to the West.
Jora pauses to examine a historic rock structure likely used by the individuals who cut down pinion trees and turned them into charcoal before descending to the Owens Valley back in the late 1800’s.
After we hike back down and drive away from Conglomerate Mesa, we head toward views of the Darwin Plateau and the Argus Mountain Range.
I’m thankful that we got to visit Conglomerate Mesa this winter day and that we were blessed with sunshine. The shadows become long and the light dramatic. The sun begins to set as we return to pavement.