Thursday, August 25, 2016

Over Mono Pass From The Mosquito Flat Trailhead

Dale Matson

(Note: This is not the Mono Pass in Yosemite)

Click On Photographs To Enlarge

Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination. In this case, the disappointment of losing the trail to Fourth Recess Lake is offset by some of the most beautiful Eastern Sierra Nevada scenery I have seen yet. I am not the best off trail navigator and have only myself to blame.  As you can see by the topographical map, I got off the trail to Fourth Recess Lake, navigated to the main trail thinking it was the spur trail and walked for quite a distance west on the main trail before realizing I was not on the spur trail to Fourth Recess Lake.
The milage for this two day hike was about 20 miles.

I had plenty of water and just decided to make camp for the night along the trail and head back the following morning. The irony is that I could see Mt. Mills, the glacier below it and the steep wall above Fourth Recess Lake from the main trail.

The five-hour drive to Bishop to pick up my reserved trail permit was uneventful and I parked at the Mosquito Flat Trailhead (elevation 10,300’) at the end of Rock Creek Road. I was on the trail by 10:00am and the temperature was already climbing. I have hiked out the Little Lakes Valley trail over Morgan Pass before but this time I took the fork to the Mono Pass Trailhead. This is more of a climb with Mono Pass being over 12,000’. The mountains and Little Lakes Valley are in view much of the climb. The switchbacks are civilized as you climb above Ruby Lake. There is a cutoff trail to Ruby Lake, which is mostly used by day hikers. I thought about adding this and then thought better of it.

Once you arrive at the pass (there is no sign) the view south is just wonderful. The initial view north is a snowfield and Summit Lake, which is in stark contrast to the barren surroundings. As I looked to the north, the sky looked threatening. I thought to myself, “I’d better get lower ASAP. It began to rain and sleet with lightning and thunder all around. I put on my rain gear, covered my pack and cameras and continued on. The varied sky made for wonderful views to the north. The immense canyon separating the Mono and Silver Divides came into view with Red and White Mountain, Mount Crocker, Mount Hopkins and North Mount Stanford in the background.

The trip down to Trail Lake was steep on legs that were beginning to tire. I went down by the lake to resupply water and had to find my way through a maze of campsite use trails back to the main trail, which runs, above the north shore.
Now the trail to Golden Creek (Downstream it becomes Mono Creek) from this point it would be possible to reach the boat landing at Edison Lake in an additional day. Some folks take this as a trans-Sierra route. The trail became steep and slow for me. Once across the creek. 

I headed west toward the junction with the trail to Fourth Recess Lake. At the signed junction I begun heading south knowing I would have to cross the creek once again. Shortly after this the trail just seemed to disappear.

I slept fairly well that night and broke camp by 7am. The sun had returned and I did pretty well climbing back up to the pass. Another nice thing about an out and back is the scenery you missed outbound. After the climb a couple of nurses I had kept pace with dropped me like a bad habit on the descent. I was glad to see the trail sign for the John Muir Wilderness once again knowing my return hike was almost over. I drove back to Bishop and got the last room available at the Comfort Inn. The following morning I drove back to Fresno.
Some of my photos are out of sequence since I used two different Sony Cameras.

 Little Lakes Valley Below

 Ruby Lake
 Near The Pass Looking South

 If You Can't Be At The Place You Love, Love The Place You're At
 Fourth Recess From The Main Trail
 Mono-Sliver Divide
 Summit Lake Looking South

 Mount Morgan With Lakes Below
 Rock Creek

 Mule Train

 Threatening Sky
 Summit Lake Storm Coming

 Trail Lake Outbound
 Crossing Golden Creek
 Trail Lake 

 Keeping Pace With The Ladies

Ruby Lake Zeiss Batis 18mm f2.8

There is a YouTube video slideshow with addition graphics here.   

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