Photo Tour: A Winter Trip to Conglomerate Mesa

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.

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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.

 

Comments (2)

A really interesting blog. thank you. I look forward to more and hopefully a trip to this area that is totally new to me other than long distant views while driving up to my cabin in Mammoth for many years. So is Conglomerate Mesa the dark topped looking mesa in the background? It appears you didn’t actually get up on the mesa, but just a much closer view or did I miss something? Is this Nat. Forest land or BLM with some private (mining claims?). Also I had no idea there could be Wild And Scenic Rivers in this area that could actually be officially classified as such. Aren’t they just seasonal streams?
anyway – thanks and am looking forward to the Bird Fest.

Thanks for the thoughtful message Henry! You are correct. Conglomerate Mesa is the dark topped you see in the first photo and is BLM land with a private mining claim. This mesa has a sort of tiering to it meaning there are multiple flat areas that make up the entire mesa. We have been up to the peak on other trips and on this one we made it to ridgeline or “the saddle” which is roughly 100 yards away and 50 feet below the summit. You can see a photo looking west from the ridgeline in the section where we talk about the view from the saddle. Where are the Wild and Scenic Rivers you are mentioning? I don’t believe there to be any on or near the mesa. There is wilderness a mile south, however.

We look forward to having you at the Owens Lake Bird Festival and thank you for your interest in Conglomerate Mesa. Let us know if you have any further questions.

-Bryan

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