Exploring the good kind of fissures in Mono Lake, CA.

Just off the north shore of Mono Lake lies the volcano Black Point, a low, mesa-like mountain of black ash.

Just off the north shore of Mono Lake lies the volcano Black Point, a low, mesa-like mountain of black ash.

Half way up the mountain and no fissure, I look back at my small car and wonder if I should continue this late in the evening [6:30pm]. I do.

I took the Cemetery Road turnoff at the north end of Mono Lake on HWY 395 and headed towards Black Point. I had directions, but had some trouble locating the trailhead. Half way up the mountain with no sign of any fissures, I looked down on my car below and wondered if I should continue my search this late in the day [5:30pm].

 it’s up to the hiker to find the way to the top of the mountain and the fissures.

There really isn’t a trail to follow, so it’s up to the hiker to find the way to the top of the mountain and the fissures.

My first attempt trying to find the fissures was a complete failure but thankfully I came back with a little more information and the knowledge of knowing what not to do.

My first attempt at trying to find the fissures was a complete failure but this time I was better prepared.

Black Point erupted about 13,000 years ago following the last ice age, when Mono Lake swelled to five times its current size and nearly ten times its current depth.

Black Point erupted about 13,000 years ago following the last ice age, when Mono Lake swelled to five times its current size and nearly ten times its current depth. At that time of its eruption, Black Point was located under water, which probably accounts for its unusual flattened top and the 20 – 50′ deep fissures on its southwestern face.

The fissures are only a few feet wide, resembling the slot canyons of southern Utah.

The fissures are only a few feet wide in some places.

There are three fissures in total. All three can be walked, climbed and squeezed through.

There are three fissures in total and all three can be walked, climbed and squeezed through.

Some are shallow, some are very deep.

Some are shallow, some are very deep.

Deep Crack Track

Deep Crack Track

Squeeze On In

Squeeze On In

Encrustation Highway

Encrustation Highway

Fissure Walk

Fissure Walk

Big ass crack!

Big ass crack!

One of the deep ones.

One of the deep ones.

Underground Tunnel

Underground Tunnel

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Go into the light...

Go into the light.

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At first I thought I would have to risk going over that rock ahead which was a 10 foot shear drop and then I realized there was a very small opening through the bottom...

At first I thought I would have to risk going over that rock ahead which was a 10 foot shear drop and then I realized there was a very small opening through the bottom…

...and this is what happened to my glasses as I squeezed through it.

…and this is what happened to my glasses as I squeezed through it.

Fissure Flats

Fissure Flats

Calcified Encrustations

Calcified Encrustations

The light at the end of the tunnel.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

Blue Walls

Blue Walls

Come on down.

Come on down.

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The textures are amazing.

The textures are amazing.

These walls are holy.

These walls are holy.

Well worth the 45 minute hike. Find the GPS coordinates and use them. Happy hunting.

d south towards Mono Lake. I hadn’t realized how high we still were when we came to the edge of the black sand face of Black Point. These black volcanic sands are obviously where Black Point gets its name, and are clearly visible from the highway. By the time I got there, my son had already ran all the way to the bottom. We followed his lead, and ran down the steep slope, taking giant steps all the way.

After exploring the fissures, I headed south towards Mono Lake. This route takes you over the black volcanic sands that actually make up Black Point.

d south towards Mono Lake. I hadn’t realized how high we still were when we came to the edge of the black sand face of Black Point. These black volcanic sands are obviously where Black Point gets its name, and are clearly visible from the highway. By the time I got there, my son had already ran all the way to the bottom. We followed his lead, and ran down the steep slope, taking giant steps all the way.

I eventually made my way down to the black sandy beach before making it back to my car.

Took a guess that this would be the quickest unmarked dirt road to take back to the highway, fortunately it was.

Took a guess that this would be the quickest unmarked dirt road to take back to the highway, fortunately it was.