Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Mono Pass (Little Lakes Valley from Mosquito Flat Trailhead)

(GPS: N37° 26.110 W118° 44.830)

Okay, it is time to get rolling on another hike. There will be a series of blog entries to get this one done. I really had to narrow down a lot of pictures, which was difficult, but this should do the job. The video is listed at the bottom and should cover the next few blog entries.

Let me start by mentioning the name of this hike is kind of confusing. If you go back a few months you may remember I already did "Mono Pass" in Yosemite. For quite some time if I had heard someone say "Mono Pass" that is what I would think they were talking about. There are two different and completely separate Mono Passes. This one I am going to talk about is south of the one in Yosemite outside of Tom's Place off the HWY 395. Some months back I was reading something online where the events took place at this Mono Pass, but the pictures were at the one in Yosemite. Alright, I hope that makes sense, let's go...

I was up early enough in the morning to get to the trailhead without hassle. The Mosquito Flat Trailhead (10,000+ elevation) is the highest one you can get to by car in the Eastern Sierra. It is a popular beginner introduction to the Sierra for this reason. I had heard about the final mile to the trailhead and was sort of nervous about what I would expect. Although it is paved it it is a one lane road where you have to watch out for oncoming cars. I did not have to pull out into any of the turnouts since I did not encounter anyone coming out. It really was not a big deal, but I wanted to get hiking and not worry about car issues. I have a real issue about worrying about my transportation when I do these hikes. Sometimes getting to the trailhead is more work than the hike itself.

Not too far outside of the trailhead the obligatory stream shot took place.
Not too much further I was into the John Muir Wilderness. Then, I started getting more elevation. In the next picture, Mt. Morgan is on the left and a bunch of the little lakes below. Most of the families I encountered on the way back were heading to those lakes. Someday, when I go back, I will probably take that trail below which is easier (unless you go really deep into the canyon) that tours most of the lakes below.
Rock Creek Canyon is very beautiful. There are lots of high mountains surrounding the area. Here is a pond I passed by.
The trail goes up higher and higher up switchbacks. The whole hike reminds me of a massive upside down U-turn. I continued up going to my right most of the time. Less and less trees, and more and more granite rock.
Earlier, I encountered a trail split. To the left would take me to Ruby Lake where I met some while coming down telling me they were going to camp there. I only saw this Lake from above. I show a little more of this in the video.
I finally made the turn that would take me to Mono Pass.
Much more work would be needed to get back there, but once I cleared this corner I would be able to see the final ascent to the pass.