Scenic USA - California

Temple Crag

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Temple Crag and Second Lake - Big Pine, California

Photo by Steve Wolfe
Steve Wolfe Photography

   An aerial view of California is marked by two distinctive mountain ranges. The parallel running Coastal Range and the Sierra Nevada Mountains, separated by the 450-mile-long Central Valley, are products of a slow moving subduction of the earth's massive tectonic plates. The Pacific Basin, slowly moving easterly, is being forced under the North America plate, uplifting California's mountain ranges. These granitic mountains, made up of igneous rock, were formed from crystallized magma below the earth's crust long ago.
   This remarkable view, highlighting the tell-tale granite of the Sierra Nevada Range, takes in an imposing Temple Crag, one of the alpine climber's favorites. Sierra's Second Lake, lying at the base of one massive granite chunk, casts an unusual turquoise hue, a lake colored by glacial-milk fed streams. The area is accessed by way of the north fork of the Big Pine Trail and leads to one of the southernmost glaciers in the United States. This High Sierra country satisfies any visitor's longings for picturesque mountain views and the dramatic scenery that once inspired John Muir and Ansel Adams.

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