Granite comes in many textures - from smooth hard glacial polish, to rough and crumbly “old” granite. “Old” because it looks old, but may in fact be the same age as its regional brother “hard granite”, it’s a matter of different environmental conditions. Over time as water creeps into granite, one of its components, feldspar, turns to clay and weakens the rock. The granite eventually crumbles into smaller fragments called DG (decomposed Granite).
This granite, before it crumbles completely, can be sculpted by wind and rain into a beautiful undulating landscape of secret coves, miniature caves, arches and hideaways. Some of the best known are the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, the Buttermilk rocks near Bishop, and the little known Granite Mountain.
Very little is written about Granite Mountain near the southeast corner of Mono Lake. I didn’t even know it existed until it became California’s newest Wildernesses a few years ago. Paula and I wanted to see it, so we drove to a spot and started walking; we chose the right spot.
Tall rounded spires and roller-coaster silhouettes grew out of mounds of DG and sagebrush. Faces carved by wind, miniature ravines, and sand dunes turned to stone enveloped us and dropped us in a place that had no time.
No human foot prints except our own; nothing but isolated growing, dying and dead trees that presented their life cycle in a single view. We did see one lone animal track with large padded feet that extended over a distant rise.
The only sound was from of a light breeze blowing across our ears; when that subsided, we experienced all the nuances of seclusion. Granite Mountain is one of the finest examples of what “old” granite can be.