Mountains and other awesome things

As you may know, there is no spot in California that’s out of sight of mountains. I took a long train trip over the weekend, when I wrote this post. Passed mountains the whole way until Nebraska. Now Nebraska is full of geological interest, but it is . . . subdued. It may be the largest state without mountains — no, Kansas is a little larger.

In the interest of taking a break and to practice working in a new image-editing application (Photoshop Elements, now that Paint Shop Pro 9 no longer works with Windows), I’m going to wander off the range and feature some mountains and other awesome features, starting in California — actually, starting with two of the photos I keep on my phone. I don’t believe I’ve shown them on this blog before.

Here’s Gudde Ridge and Round Top, just over the hills from Oakland. They’re honorary mountains, using 600 meters/2000 feet as the cutoff.

And here’s Las Trampas Ridge on the left and Rocky Ridge on the right, west of Danville/San Ramon. Rocky Ridge is just over 2000 feet.

And now let’s go for awesome.

I’ve tried several times over the years to capture this sight on camera: the Kern River canyon exiting the Sierra Nevada east of Bakersfield. In my opinion it’s California’s most dramatic water gap, made as a strong mountain river cut through a rising range. The Golden Gate might outdo it in geographic importance, but that’s a drowned water gap at the moment, with its lower hundred meters covered by the sea.

And here’s another awesome thing: the White Mountains, as seen in the bristlecone pine preserve.

The White Mountains are white in this area because they consist of dolomite marble. How that happens is still imperfectly understood. But what matters here is that dolomite, which resists rainwater much more than its more common cousin calcite, creates a very stable setting for the extremely old bristlecone pines, some of which are approaching five thousand years of age. It’s remarkable stuff to pick up and stare at, just as much as the trees.

And finally here are two photos from Colorado, which I rode through on Saturday. First is an image from five years ago in the mountains north of Red Rocks, showing the classic sandstone of the Fountain Formation that gives the area its name.

And here’s an image from Saturday, taken from the California Zephyr as it approached upper Rube Canyon.

What an audacious feat it was to push a railroad through here, and what an experience it was to ride through it.

6 Responses to “Mountains and other awesome things”

  1. glasspusher Says:

    Beautiful and informative as always! Thanks!

  2. Chuck Karish Says:

    I think your picture shows the dramatic contact at the north end of the Bristlecone Pines preserve, where the conditions that support the pines abruptly disappear. The pines are there both because the conditions are favorable to them and because the conditions are so terrible for everything else that might compete with them.

  3. john seyfarth Says:

    Would love to see you expand your coverage to include our Santa Cruz Mountains geology!!

  4. Hollis Says:

    You neglect the Bohemian Alps of eastern Nebraska! ;) That’s ok … so do the geo guides.

  5. Erich Hayner Says:

    Your photo editing skills seem to be quite good. I hadn’t heard about PSPro. I shifted to Adobe a long time ago, not because PSPro was inferior, but because I needed to use the same vocabulary as most of the other photographers that I worked with.
    I adore the Zephyr. If traveled it many times. I often wished that there were a book or an app that emulated the “Roadside Geology” books.. Now that’d be true armchair geology!
    Thanks

  6. Cate Says:

    Thanks for these posts!!

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