Sunday, October 04, 2009

Mono Pass (Yosemite) Part 1

(GPS: N37 51.335 w119 12.995)

This is a hike I had previously had done about five years ago. I wanted to go back for higher quality pictures and video. I had mentioned a few blogs entries back that Yosemite was on fire most of the time I was there. Our strategy was to go early before the smoke would hit in the afternoon. That actually worked out that day, but another of the many issues we had happened to me a few days earlier. While doing some lifting I injured the lower part of my back. I could not walk around at all, and I thought I would not be able to do anymore hikes this year. Fortunately, I recovered quickly, but wore a back brace during this hike and did feel some pain as I was doing it. I will post the video links to the first part of the hike at the end of this blog.

What I like about this hike is it does have a lot of history to it. You will see more as I go along in the next two blog entries. For the moment let me just say that this trail goes along a historical Native American trail that has been used for centuries. There are a bunch of signs at the beginning that go over the natural history, wildlife, and people history of this trail.

There are two areas people refer to as Mono Pass. I will show the other one at a later date. This one is on the eastern side of Yosemite and only a few miles from the eastern entrance. The hike itself is about four miles one way with about 1,000 ft. of elevation gain. I consider it a "tourist hike" in that it is not really that demanding, the trail is well maintained, and you will probably encounter other people at some point on the hike. It is a common Yosemite tourist hike. It is one of those hikes I feel is scenic, but never really feel that I am way out in the backcountry.
The picture above should be Dana Fork. This is the only major stream/river you encounter on this hike. Most of the hike is following a trail back and forth through the forest. You do get some points where the trees open up for you on one side or the other, but for about half of the hike trees are on both sides of you.
This is the crucial part of the hike. There is no chance of getting lost out here because of the signs, but all you do is stay left anytime you see the trail split or go off in another direction. The right side takes you to Spillway Lake which I have never been to. At this point is where just about all the elevation takes place. Most of the trail to this point is level, but now you have to put some real work into your legs. Since my back was still in pain I did not really go that fast on this hike so my pace was slow on level or higher elevation portions of the trail.
There comes a point when you are about 75% of the way done that the area starts to open up. When we were here five years ago my brother saw an army of mule deer out in the field there. I only saw two out there this time.
If you can imagine heading south on a map and then finally turning east that pretty much describes what is going on here. The trail goes by the base of this mountain here which was on my left side. I liked that tree there. Then below looking toward the right (west) there is a big pond. You might see a faint trail that leads you down below. That will be in the next blog.
Finally, after about 1 1/2 to 2 hours you get to the sign marking Mono Pass and the entrance to Bloody Canyon. This is another Yosemite border that enters Ansel Adams Wilderness. You will notice the lake in the background. They call it Summit Lake, but keep in mind that some of these lakes are just big ponds. It is beautiful to look at no matter what you want to call it.
This ends the first part. There are a bunch of things I left out so you may want to check out the video:

Mono Pass (Youtube Version)

Mono Pass (Vimeo Version)

Next time you get to see the historical cabins built by the miners.