www.visitmammoth.com ), with small ribbons of white snow still visible, even though I visited the location in late June.
The trail leading up to the monument is wide and well traveled.
This is the first view a visitor will see, as they approach the base of the "post pile". It is not a waterfall, rather a "post rock fall", of broken pieces of the columnar basalt, from the hill behind the pile. Although it is hard to see in this photo, there are people up on top of the postpile, and I was determined to climb up there to join them!
Asmight be expected, the trail can be steep at times, but there are switchbacks and natural-looking "stairs" that have been made to make the top accessible. According to the NPS website, the columns are about sixty feet tall, and are some of the best examples of columnar basalt in the world!
The trail will also take you near the base of the formation, so you can see the amazing symmetry of the columns. Columnar basalt, similar to that seen in this photo, can be seen at various locations around the world. The first time I heard of it was in a postcard drawing my son mailed me, depicting the "Giants Causeway" in Northern Ireland, which is also made of columnar basalt. Later I observed it in Yellowstone National Park, Hell's Canyon between Washington and Idaho, and Lost Creek Lake in Southern Oregon. However, I was not able to actually climb on top of the columns at any of these locations. Back in the last century, my husband and I hiked around the base of Devil's Tower in Wyoming, which is also a type of volcanic basalt, but not exactly what you see at Devils Postpile in Caifornia.
This photo was taken from the top of the columns, after I reached the summit. Although some teenage boys were walking over to the very edge, and waving to the people below, I did not want to fall to my death at a place with the word "devil" in it! I kept remembering my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) Bible verse from I Peter 5:8 that says, "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a hungry lion, looking for someone to devour."
I pity the person who actually had to gather the data to make the following statement, but according to sources on wikipedia, a survey of 400 of the polygonal columns at Devils Postpile are made of 46% hexagonal, and 38% pentagonal, 10% 4-sided, and 8 % seven-sided, and 0.5% three sided . Compared to other examples of columnar jointing, the Postpile has a higher percentage of hexagonal columns. I will have to take their word for it, because doing that much counting, is more than I have fingers and toes to accommodate!
When you are at the higher elevation within the park, you can look toward the area that is the goal of many climbers on the trail, and that is the trek to Rainbow Falls.
However, I did not walk the additional distance to the falls, as my cousin Debbie was waiting for me at the base of the columns. This photo shows she had a log bench to sit on, and she said she was amused to hear the visitor's comments about the columns, as they walked past her during the time I was hiking to the top.
As I mentioned in the beginning, we were required to take a shuttle bus to the Devils Postpile Ranger Station, and this photo illustrates that it is a very basic vehicle, and sometimes it is so full that people have to stand and hold on to the overhead loops and railing, for stability. I took this photo on the trip back to the bus shuttle starting location, and noticed there were considerably fewer people coming down, than when we went up!
This photo shows why Mammoth Mountain is considered a "lava dome complex", rather than a single summit.
There are hundreds of miles of trails to explore on the less-visited eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range, and if you would like to learn more, visit the website www.fs.usda.gov/inyoOnce you are on the website, you will learn that Inyo NF is also home to Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain peak in the contiguous USA. I am VERY THANKFUL I was finally able to make the visit to explore the Devils Postpile National Monument, because it gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!
Author's Note: Since an addition to a blog is called a "post", I am hoping that the words that I write to form these posts, will go into a pile labeled "The LORD'S Post Pile", and not "The Devil's Post Pile"!!
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