Abert Rim and Lake

July 29, 2011


Photographer: Stu Witmer
Summary Author: Stu Witmer

Fresh spring snow paints the face of Abert Rim as it stands more than 2,000 ft (610 m) above Abert Lake in South Central Oregon. Together with Summer Lake about 20 mi (32 km) west, Abert Lake is but a small remnant of Lake Chewaucan that existed here during the Pleistocene epoch. These days the lake is only 10 or 15 ft (3 to 5 m) deep and has an area of about 50 sq mi (130 sq km) more or less depending on rainfall. In addition to a few little streams, the Chewaucan River is the main source of water and the only outlet is evaporation. During particularly dry spells the lake can all but dry up. At such times the dry salts can blow away allowing the returning water to be fresher than before. Generally, the salinity level of the lake is six times that of the ocean – so salty as to be dangerous to humans and most animals, but for sea monkeys, this is a paradise. These brine shrimp (Artemia salina) are a hardy lot and in their dormant stage, they can survive without food or water for several years. It's theorized that the shrimp arrived in the lake originally on the wind or on the feathers or bodies of visiting birds that fly past here on their annual migrations. The presence of the shrimp and the alkali flies makes Abert Lake a prime stop on the Pacific Flyway. Both the rim and the lake are named for Colonel J. J. Abert who was the commanding officer of the 1843 mapping expedition. Photo taken April 28, 2010.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON E570; Focal Length: 34.7 mm (35mm equivalent: 136 mm); Aperture: f/7.7;Exposure Time: 0.001 sec (1/741); ISO equiv: 200.