Continuing our journey eastwards, we begin to climb upwards out of the Great Central Valley. Our climb is gentle because we are on what is known geologically as the "dip slope" of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Our journey will take us through many miles of gradually increasing elevation, over miles of rolling granite mountains, through miles of hushed piney forests amongst which stand some of the world's largest and oldest evergreen trees, until finally we encounter the Pacific Crest Trail that marks the Sierra Nevada drainage divide. As we look westwards from here all flowing waters are destined to reach the great Pacific Ocean. As we look east, all flowing waters will end in one or other of the dry lake beds of the North American "Great Basin", unless that is, any of these waters are siphoned off by the five Counties of southern California to slake the insatiable thirst of their twenty million inhabitants and their gardens!
In marked contrast to the gentle western dip slope, the eastern "scarp slope" is anything but. In the space of a mere few miles, the very highest fourteen thousand foot peaks of the eastern Sierra Nevada plummet precipitously back down to a "mere" five thousand feet in the flanking valleys of the Great Basin. Marked by a complex of large, interlaced tectonic faults, many of which remain active today, the so-called Eastern Sierran "Front" runs north-south for well over 200 miles, and presents us with one of the most dramatic geological and physiographic spectacles on the face of the planet.
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