Magazine article Sunset

Mono Lake Paddlers Take a Tufa Tour

Magazine article Sunset

Mono Lake Paddlers Take a Tufa Tour

Article excerpt

Briny Mono Lake lies at the foot of the Eastern Sierra Nevada near the town of Lee Vining, California. It's an austere and ancient lake best known for its exotic formations of calcium carbonate called tufa, and as a rookery for thousands of California gulls. A new and fascinating way to explore this mysterious lake is by sea kayak. Caldera Kayaks, based at Crowley Lake Marina near the town of Mammoth Lakes, offers guided day and moonlight kayak trips on Mono Lake through fall.

Paddlers launch these sleek and stable craft at Navy Beach on the lake's southern shore. A 3-mile trip brings them to the stark white shores of Paoha Island (paoha is a Kuzedika Paiute word meaning spirits that rise from hot springs), where volcanic outcroppings emit sulfurous odors.

Bird-watching for ducks, shorebirds, and other migratory species is especially rewarding during fall tours. On the return leg of the 6-mile trip, paddlers point their bows just west of Navy Beach and cruise close to the lakeshore's craggy tufa formations. …

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