Before our Death Valley National Park adventure began, we made a brief stop at Mono Lake during sunset. The majestic view of South Tufa grove was mesmerizing. Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.

Mono Lake was actually the first destination of our road trip around Sierra-Nevada in April, which led to our Badwater Basin and Mesquite Sand Dunes photoshoots at Death Valley National Park. It was a short stop just before sunset, one late afternoon before we reached Death Valley. This is a side story, some sort of an ode to a place that we usually skipped in the past in favor of bigger, better destinations like Yosemite or Lake Tahoe. Yes, Yosemite National Park is world famous – its summer traffic would be a testament in itself (good luck if you’re going there in summer weekends) – and Death Valley is like no other. But don’t underestimate the beauty of this dainty Mono Lake.

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Our visit to Mono Lake’s South Tufa grove was brief – less than one hour long, but it was certainly memorable. The tufa rock formations were…quite a weird sight at first. But I grew to like these nature’s art; these limestone towers were exclusively formed underwater and stayed there until the lake’s water level dropped dramatically in 1940s due to water diversions. So we appreciated these tufa towers, blue water, and most remarkably…the complete absence of sound when both human tourists and birds were not talking. Even if it was only a few seconds of silence, it felt like an intense 10-minute meditation session. It was sublime. All of the sudden, Mono Lake’s grandeur came to live.

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When the noises – humans, birds, and drones – came back roaring, I missed the complete silence immediately. This world is so loud and yet contained less meaningful substance nowadays, which encouraged constant distractions. The silence I felt at Mono Lake’s South Tufa grove, on the other hand, felt so intense and so heavy that I could not help to focus. Intently, immensely, immediately. I must say, it was quite surreal.

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The view was otherworldly. Seeing mirror image of those tufa towers reflected on the calm lake was like looking at a dormant alien ship hovering in some visible alternate dimension. It sent chills down my spine. How beautiful this sanctuary is, and how little we average humans know about this world’s nature. It’s also maddening to realize how very little respect we paid to nature. Something that’s immensely grand and much more powerful than ourselves, patiently crafting its arts for thousands (or millions) of years. And we only got to see it only because they were revealed to us. It’s humbling how fleeting our time in this world is and yet how much influence we have to disrespect or destroy nature itself.

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And with that somber feeling intact, we started our walk back to the parking lot…while silently cursing the thunderous roar of a large white drone flying across the lake. Noisy world, indeed. I hope it did not bother the birds’ feeding time that evening.

Thanks for reading; until next time,

Photos by Christian Hadidjaja.
Style Notes: Upcycled Fads denim jumpsuit, Goorin Bros. hat, Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses, Vasque boots.

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