It is late in March and we take a look at the Mojave River.
It is a river that runs, depending on time of year and location. This wet Winter/Spring has given it quite a boost, as can be seen here in this photo looking at Interstate 15 as it crosses the river next to downtown Victorville, California:
Turning around, we now look at the river as it cuts through some rocks, behind which lies the community of Apple Valley:
The sun set before I could get a good picture from Apple Valley, where the mountains that provide all this water can be plainly seen. But here is what the river emerging from the mountains looks like from a false-color mosaic made up of satellite photos, put together by several US government agencies:
The above satellite photograph also shows the Pacific Ocean and part of the Los Angeles basin.
The San Gabriel mountains lie to the north and east of Los Angeles, and the river coming out of those mountains flows North, at first. Then it turns East, and that is where Victorville lies:
Where the faint dark line (=Interstate 15) crosses the river near the right side of the above photo, there is a green strip, and that is where the above two photos were taken.
If we now continue to follow the river, to the east, we come to Barstow, California. Barstow is the green area south of the river as it enters the photo below on its lower left (it is quite close to Victorville, quite a distance from Baker, which is the few dots above Interstate 15 in the photo below, just above some blue splotches where there is water in an otherwise dry Soda Lake, the terminal point of the Mojave River):
The river, at Barstow, is still wide but not near as deep as at Victorville. Here is what it looked like:
Where the stream slowed, like in a bend, the organics floating on the water were collected and presented strange terrains of foams (granddaughter Aubree saw this foam formation and took this picture, thanks Aubree!):
The foam also created balls that formed and separated and flowed away as we watched:
Is this foam pollution? Yes, but whether it is natural or artificial, or both, is a moot point. Rivers always carry organics from their sources and receive contributions along the way. Water flows into the river in many areas through soil, so it picks up soil organics, and that part of it is perfectly natural.
So, all this flow ends up in Soda Lake, which was already pointed out on the satellite image shown above, noting that Baker, California, lies just north of the blue splotches in that picture, the southern reaches of Soda Lake.
Our next photo stop was just north of Soda Lake, which was displaying its most appropriate Spring-time behavior on this visit: sending up clouds of dust to feed sand-dunes to the east. In the next photo one can see some little bit of water being donated by the Mojave River (those blue splotches in the false color image shown above), and the sand dunes are in the distance across the now mostly dry lake bottom.
Those sand dunes are formidable in terms of size, they cover many low mountains. If you fly from Las Vegas to Los Angeles or vice versa and can see this place, the area covered by blown sand is astonishing. The dust being picked up in the next two photos is headed in the direction of those dunes:
Well, that is literally the end of the Mojave River! Soda Lake sometimes overflows to its north and fills Silver Lake. We went there already to document its filled state at present (click here to go there) and explained that the water table is deeper under Silver Lake than it is under Soda Lake, and this has allowed clay and caliche to be depositied by water flowing down during a rain event or flowing in from Soda Lake, as it did this year, and rising back up as water vapor as dry conditions return.
Because the water is basically being evaporated out of the soil under the lake bottom, it leaves its chemical loading behind and thus has sealed Silver Lake. There was water there on our last visit, placed there by an overflow from Soda Lake. When we visited there this time, about a month later, the overflowing had stopped and Soda Lake water was receding. Now Soda Lake is much drier than a month ago, but water has receded very little in Silver Lake, as this speed limit sign on a road covered by the lake attests (the water-line was almost as close to the sign last time we were here):