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TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

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TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

Postby old and slow » Thu Sep 15, 2016 8:27 pm

It's been a busy and hectic year and beginning to look like one without any backpacking trips. I managed a few car camping trips but it just isn't the same (not even close). But my daughter called up last minute and said she had time for a Labor Day trip. I've wanted to hike Mono Pass in Yosemite for a few years but had been thwarted for some reason or other (fire, injury, bad timing, whatever). But this would be the year, a perfect spot for a quick, getaway trip.

Although we didn't have a permit, I was still optimistic. We arrived at Tuolumne Meadows Wilderness Permit Center at 10 Saturday morning and the line was already incredibly long for the 11am opening to hand out permits for next day trips. As it turned out, it was the busiest day ever at the TM Permit Center for the issuance of wilderness permits. We actually spent a most pleasurable 2 hours in line swapping stories with people next to us. We laughed the whole time and it reminded me that backpackers can be the coolest, funniest folks around.

Even though it was a busy holiday weekend, we still got our desired permits, set up a spot in the Backpacker's Campground and took an acclimatizing day-hike to nearby Elizabeth Lake. I also spotted our very own Markskor working at the TM store, looking very dapper indeed in his Tuolumne Meadows tee shirt. We chatted for just a minute as he was busy working the register.

Next day (Sunday) we set off from the Mono Pass/Parker Pass trailhead in eastern Yosemite. The hike is a long, gradual, steady climb up to Mono Pass and, as is my practice, I started out slow and then tapered off from there. I enjoy backpacking with my daughter as she is the only person I know willing to match my torpid pace. It was a walk through wooded areas, a couple of streams, meadows and then as we approached the Mono Pass/Parker Pass junction, it all opened up into some truly breathtaking views. We reached the Mono Pass summit (3.7 miles in around 3 hours) and then continuing down, we crossed into into the Ansel Adams Wilderness.

The previous night had apparently been brutally cold and windy. We set up camp amongst some trees at Upper Sardine Lake hoping for some protection from the wind. It was a cold night but the wind did not pose a problem. We hiked around the immediate area and just took it all in. It was an amazing, peaceful, beautiful location with lake and mountain views. Serenity. It reminded me of the Shakespeare line from As You Like It -- "I like ths place and willingly could waste time in it." Yes, indeed!

Since I am definitely not a foodie, I always have trouble selecting meals for trips. I experimented this time with a freeze dried meal for our dinner. We had Risotto Primavera from Backpacker's Bistro. I was very pleasantly surprised -- easy and actually quite delicious.

Next morning after taking in the sights off the Lake, we headed back and I was satisfied.

Take-aways:
1. Since my daughter is a "cold" sleeper, I got her a Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme sleeping bag liner. Apparently, it worked. She handled the very chilly night pretty well.
2. I discovered a good, easy, and tasty meal option.
3. On my way up to Mono Pass, I bumped into 2 small groups returning from Upper Sardine Lake; they both said the fishing there was excellent. I have to learn to fish!! Maybe, I should start looking at various posts on the The Fishing Hole for tips for beginners.
4. I am always the slowest backpacker on the trail averaging about 1 1/4 mph uphill and not much better downhill at 1 1/2 mph downhill. I can actually walk pretty fast with a daypack but put 25 or 30 pounds on my back and I just drag. I am finally beginning to just accept it.
Attachments
Elizabeth Lake.jpg
Elizabeth Lake
Elizabeth Lake.jpg (38.02 KiB) Viewed 286 times
trail toward Mono Pass.jpg
trail toward Mono Pass
trail toward Mono Pass.jpg (33.96 KiB) Viewed 286 times
Mono Pass signpost.jpg
signpost at Mono Pass
Mono Pass signpost.jpg (93.17 KiB) Viewed 286 times
Summit Lake, Mono Pass.jpg
Summit Lake at Mono Pass
Summit Lake, Mono Pass.jpg (46.04 KiB) Viewed 286 times
Mono Lake in distance.jpg
Upper Sardine Lake with Mono Lake in the distance
Mono Lake in distance.jpg (33.4 KiB) Viewed 286 times
morning reflection.jpg
morning reflection at Upper Sardine Lake
morning reflection.jpg (27.27 KiB) Viewed 286 times



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Re: TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

Postby cefire » Thu Sep 15, 2016 10:36 pm

Really like the Sardine/Mono lake picture - sounds like a great trip with family :)
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Re: TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

Postby balzaccom » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:18 am

that's a lovely TR. We've done that hike from the East side, up past Walker Lake through "Bloody Canyon."

Fishing in Upper Sardine is quite good for small brook trout---about 7-9 inches.
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Re: TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

Postby wildhiker » Fri Sep 16, 2016 6:10 pm

I'm a big fan of camping at Upper Sardine Lake and have done it 4 or 5 times - sometimes just a weekend like you did), sometimes the first night on a longer trip (either over to Koip Peak Pass or cross-country over Kuna Pass). It's really a beautiful setting with a great view down to Mono Lake, and you can almost always get walk-up permits. Thanks for reminding me with your photos, since it's been a few years since I was there last.
-Phil
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Re: TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

Postby old and slow » Sat Sep 17, 2016 3:23 pm

Balzac -- after having only hiked from Upper Sardine Lake back up to Mono Pass and feeling very much in the "old and slow"mode, I have only the utmost respect for you for taking the Blood Canyon trail all the way past Walker Lake. That's quite a climb!!

Phil -- I already want to revisit that area; the trail to Parker Pass looks awesome. BTW, how is the trail as it continues over Koip Peak Pass? How's the footing? exposure?
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Re: TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

Postby balzaccom » Sun Sep 18, 2016 7:59 am

The secret to Bloody Canyon is to put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. After a while, you're at Upper Sardine Lake. Grin
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Re: TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

Postby wildhiker » Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:01 pm

Old and Slow -

Trail is good over Parker Pass, down past some tarns along Parker Creek, and then up over Koip Peak Pass. At least, it was good in 2003. The climb up from Parker Creek to Koip Peak Pass is very dramatic and does have exposure. The trail switchbacks up the side of a steep slope. It feels like you are looking all the way down the entire east side to the bottom. No camping between the lowest tarn on Parker Creek and Alger Lakes. If you get an early start from the Mono Pass trailhead, you can probably make it all the way to that lowest tarn on Parker Creek, skipping Mono Pass and Upper Sardine Lake. Parker Pass is only a bit higher than Mono Pass. Then you are in good position to do the big hike up over 12,000 foot Koip Peak Pass the next day.
-Phil
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Re: TR: Mono Pass (Yosemite) Labor Day 2016

Postby Shhsgirl » Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:15 pm

A very nice TR. It calmed me down just reading it. Take your time, and you can have a good one, right? And having the daughter along, well, that's perfect!
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