View Full Version : Mono Lake, Calif

07-29-2008, 20:55
Anyone here dive this lake? Looks like it could be interesting.

07-30-2008, 02:06
Isn't Mono lake incredibly polluted, to the point that all the fish died in it, and it's so acidic (or was it alkaline?) that metals dissolve in it? Doesn't sound like the best diving, IMO. ;)

07-30-2008, 08:35
I have been to Mono Lake many times. It has a very high pH so it is basic. People soak and skinny dip in it and it is very easy to float. The reason - it is a dead end lake no outflow so all the salts and minerals build up. Southern California use to divert the water for agricultural uses thus dropping the lake level, exposing the tufa towers, concentrating the salts even more, and creating several environmental problems. There were 4 campsites on one of the islands. I kayaked out the summer of 1999 or 2000 to be the first of a group of campers in the season only to discover that the sites and tables were underwater so I slept between 2 bushes. They stopped diverting the creeks feeding into the lake. It is an interesting ecosystem brine shrimp, flies, seagull nesting. Too alkaline for fish. It looks very clean to me. Who would think to see thousands of seagulls migrating to mate and nest so far inland. I do not like going in the water. Your skin gets slippery due to soapafication - fats in skin reacting to basic water. I got hard caked potassium and sodium salt deposits on my clothes, gear, and kayak. I would kayak it, but do not like to swim or float in it.

It is beautiful to kayak. 6K above sea level, desert lake, like being in a bowl kayaking with snow capped mountains on one rim. I made the mistake of a late start. Wind picks up, there is essentially no good shade, that is why I pitched my tent between 2 bushes to get out of the sun. Some of the islands are restricted during nesting season and some is privately owned.

I think there may still be kayak rentals on the weekends during the summer. There is county park camping at about 8K above sea level towards Yosemite. Excellent trout fishing at the nearby lakes and streams north and west of the lake. Ghost town north, hotsprings north and south. Skiing south. Library-internet in Lee Vining. Go early in the season to see the creeks rushing from the snow runoff.

07-30-2008, 09:23
I am very familiar with Mono Lake and have been a "Friend of Mono Lake" for years. Dead? Hardly. It is an incredibly clean env, albeit very salty. 80% of the seagulls in Calif are born there, and 100,000's of birds migrate through there each year.

I've also done a lot of kayaking on the lake for years. I know its very salty and would require a lot of clean-up. My interest in diving the lake is just to do something different. There are a lot of lakes in the Sierra that would be fun to dive, including Tahoe. Each one would be a little different.

07-30-2008, 10:10
Great!!! I have never been a friend, but love the area. Why not fill out your profile and post your experiences in the Eastern Sierras? I would love to read about it. I also like to water ski. Lake Tahoe is great. I crosscountry ski around the lake with my friends and family. I have never even thought about diving in fresh water. A swim buddy of mine swam the length of Lake Tahoe a few years back. I have only dove in the ocean. If California allowed spearfishing or grabbing with hands, I would freedive freshwater. I wondered why someone would SCUBA dive fresh water in California. I know they do altitude certification in Tahoe.

07-30-2008, 10:24
"Friend of Mono Lake" just means I give a donation every month to the Mono Lake Committee. It's a very special place to my wife and I.

"I wondered why someone would SCUBA dive fresh water in California." Because it's different, a new adventure.

07-31-2008, 10:39
Yes, I know what a friend is. I have read the postings. We have taken part in clean-ups, bird watching, star gazing, storytelling, tours, etc. My family spent a few years in the Tioga Pass area so I would frequent the Mono Lake area and even rode my bike in the pumice circumventing the lake.

My dog had problems getting his paws cut up for the sharp rocks in the areas so I got him some booties. Be careful going hiking/backpacking/fishing with a pooch on volcanic rocks. You may have to carry him out.

08-02-2008, 13:14
I mentioned soapification. The fats/oils in skin reacting with the basic lake water and turning into soap - so skin feels slippery.

When I am kayaking my feet tend to be in the water for a long time in the footwells. My feet look like they were dipped in acetone - all dried out - and layers of old skin seems to be falling off. So I guess it may be good for soaking your feet.

I do not know what the effects for getting it in the eyes and not rinsing it out would be.

Chemistry Mono Lake Chemistry (http://www.monolake.org/naturalhistory/chem.htm)

Wiki Mono Lake - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_Lake)

I have never seen anyone swimming in it, only soaking or floating. So I am with Compudude. May not be a good idea to immerse oneself and gear for an extended period. I have never gotten it on my face or eyes.

My hands do not look too good either after being in it for long periods. And my legs get itchy and peel if I have no water to rinse it off.