Author Topic: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake  (Read 11195 times)

wshawkins

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Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« on: August 05, 2014, 11:43:06 AM »
Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake



The Basics:
8 miles round trip to Lower Sardine
10 miles round trip to Mono Pass and the Gold Crown Cabins
2,000 + vertical feet to Lower Sardine lake
Mono Pass Trailhead - el. 8,360ft. 
Walker Lake - el. 7,946ft.
Lower Sardine Lake - el. 9,915ft.
Mono Pass Ė el. 10,600 ft.



Directions:

Leave Hwy 395 at the north end of the June Lake Loop, Hwy 158. Just North of Grant Lake, follow dirt road 1S23 along Sawmill Creek to the Trailhead.




Itís been very quiet of late on the Board.  See if I can perk things up with a trip report from the Hawk files.  I made this hike late last fall from the June Lake Loop.  I visit and fish this pristine lake about once every 5 years.  I believe I posted that trip about 5 years ago but itís lost it due a Board crash.  I think itís worth looking at again.  This trip has it all, fishing that never disappoints (at least thatís true for me), views that are to die for and a silver mine and cabins to explore to boot!  Hope you enjoyÖÖÖ.. :fishing3:


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« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 12:26:45 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2014, 11:46:53 AM »
The Mono Pass Trail, also known as Bloody Canyon, was used to cross the Sierras before wagon roads were built.  Bloody Canyon was named for the injuries to stock that made this rugged crossing.  The trail climbs over a ridge to view Walker Lake and goes up Bloody Canyon past Lower and Upper Sardine Lakes.  At the head of the canyon the trail crosses Mono Pass into Yosemite National Park, and continues toward the Kuna Crest or Parker Pass Creek areas of Yosemite Park.  Do not confuse this with the Mono Pass that goes to Pioneer Basin and the Recesses in the Rock Creek and Little Lakes Valley area.



Trailhead Parking




Trailhead Sign




The trail climbs over ridge and drops down 400 ft. to cross the inflow of Walker Lake.  As I mentioned before, this route was used to cross the Sierras before wagon roads were built and is named for the injuries to stock that made this rugged crossing.  The Indians used this pass to cross the Sierra for centuries; then came the pioneers and miners. Today, backpackers and hikers explore the area without knowing its long and exciting history.  Though at times history gets confusing, one cannot deny the tremendous importance of this trail over Mono Pass, the original trans-Yosemite trail.



Walker Lake

« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 12:29:08 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2014, 11:51:16 AM »
The trail runs along the Walker Creek through dense aspen trees. The trail here is beautiful with most striking terrain. The gradual climb to Inyo/Ansel Adam border is easy here.  Once crossing the border, the pain begins all 2,000 + feet of climbing to Lower Sardine Lake; it is straight up with few switchbacks.



Walker Creek




Ansel Adams Wilderness Area




Looking up to Mono Pass




Bloody Canyon is just spectacular!




Getting Closer to Mono Pass




Lower Sardine Lake is right over this last hump

« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 12:29:31 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2014, 11:55:21 AM »
I finally arrive at Lower Sardine Lake.  What a beautiful deep crystal clear Eastern Sierra lake this is! 



Lower Sardine Lake




Lower Sardine Lake





Best of all, I see fish feeding on the surface.  The late afternoon surface-feed was stunning - I could easily see thousands of fish rising to feed.  There was a major hatch going off and the fish were in a feeding frenzy.


I tied on a fresh dark Caddis fly that matched the hatch and targeted a spot on the lake that was boiling with fish and presented my fly and wham, a fat 14Ē Brookie on my fish cast!  My ultra-light rig was straining to bring this fish in. 


14Ē Brookie




Turns out to be the biggest fish I caught all day, as they were mostly averaging 9-12Ē during my stay.  I did keep some for my dinner later.  Fishing was real hot the whole time I was there, catching and releasing almost a Brookie per cast.  Fishing was off the wall with sometimes up to 7-8 Brookies following the fish on my line in!  It was crazy!
« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 12:29:48 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2014, 11:57:34 AM »
This lake could use some thinning out as there were way too many skinny fish in this lake.  I have caught up to 15Ē fat Brookies in the past here so today was OK.  Wind was relentless, so headed to the inlet to get out of the constant cool 30 mph wind that was blowing.  The brookies were in much better shape at the inlet averaging about 12Ē and full bodied.  Not sure why they were bigger here but the inlet does bring in more feeding opportunities for the fish.



Brookie





Brookie





Brookie


« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 12:30:05 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2014, 12:01:10 PM »
If you still have any energy left, you can continue to hike up to Mono Pass.  Youíll pass Upper Sardine Lake, Summit Lake and then Mono Pass.  At Mono Pass near Summit Lake is the Gold Crown Miner Cabins thatís worth a look.  Youíll find them on the south side of Summit Lake.  Youíll see a use trial to the old miner cabins.



Summit Lake at Mono Pass




Golden Crown Mine and Ella Bloss mines have five log cabins standing and several mine shafts that mark this location at Mono Pass, on the boundary of Yosemite National Park at 11,000 ft. elevation.  The 5 log cabins were built in 1879 during the gold/silver boom near Tioga Pass.



Gold Crown Cabins




Gold Crown Cabins




Inside one of the cabins looking at where the fireplace was





« Last Edit: August 12, 2014, 09:44:04 AM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2014, 12:10:02 PM »
Walker and Mono Lakes from Lower Sardine Lake




Waterfall out of Lower Sardine Lake.  Itís much more impressive in spring time!




Walker and Mono Lakes




Walker Lake





And then, thereís the end of the hike - a steep, punishing slog alongside Walker Lake, up to the trail head.  It says itís only 400 feet elevation gain, but I can hardly believe it.  It seems much more to me.  And steep, did I say that? I eventually make it over the ridge to my vehicle.



Walker Lake Resort




If you decide to go this route, be warned that this is a strenuous hike.  Be in shape and be acuminated to the elevation.  Those of you that had altitude sickness know how it can stop you in your tracks!  Not a hike you want to take on your first day in the Sierra.  If you go in June, July or early August, bring insect repellent.  The mosquitoes can be a menace then.



Aside from fishing and hiking, photography is one of the big lures of Lower Sardine Lake and Bloody Canyon. The glacially sculpted cliffs and waterfalls in the area make an excellent backdrop for photographers who want to capture views of the Sierra crest.  The views can be are stunning!





Walker and Mono Lakes


« Last Edit: August 05, 2014, 12:31:04 PM by wshawkins »
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

Gypsy Wind

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2014, 01:45:27 PM »
Fabulous report and beautiful pics as usual.
Definitely need to add this one to my list. :hiking2:

saudust

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2014, 04:22:16 PM »
Another fantastic TR, wshawkins.  Were there frogs at Summit Lake?  My wife and I got dropped off at Dana Meadows late one spring (2001) and hiked over Mono Pass down to our car at the end of the access road.   When we passed Summit Lake the frogs were incredibly loud.  That was quite an excursion, though, and we had stopped speaking to each other just past Walker Lake, not that we were mad at one another, simply exhausted.  Late spring, even a warm one that year, was STUPID.  It ended up being an 11 hour hike traversing wide, raging streams with an hour of fishing and some lunch at Lower Sardine, but what fishing that was!  I've gone the route you took only to Lower Sardine and back.  That last haul up the broken rock that poses as a trail to the pass was just too much for us.

Thanks for bringing back the gorgeous sights and vistas.  If and when again, I'll search for those cabins and mines.
Let me wake laughing from a nap in the afternoon under the aspens in the fall.

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2014, 04:56:19 PM »
Fabulous report and beautiful pics as usual.
Definitely need to add this one to my list. :hiking2:



Thanks Gypsy Wind!  Great fishing, breathtaking views and old mines to explore.  What more would you want. :twothumbs:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2014, 04:57:36 PM »
Another fantastic TR, wshawkins.  Were there frogs at Summit Lake?  My wife and I got dropped off at Dana Meadows late one spring (2001) and hiked over Mono Pass down to our car at the end of the access road.   When we passed Summit Lake the frogs were incredibly loud.  That was quite an excursion, though, and we had stopped speaking to each other just past Walker Lake, not that we were mad at one another, simply exhausted.  Late spring, even a warm one that year, was STUPID.  It ended up being an 11 hour hike traversing wide, raging streams with an hour of fishing and some lunch at Lower Sardine, but what fishing that was!  I've gone the route you took only to Lower Sardine and back.  That last haul up the broken rock that poses as a trail to the pass was just too much for us.

Thanks for bringing back the gorgeous sights and vistas.  If and when again, I'll search for those cabins and mines.



I forgot to mention the frogs!  I could hear them as I was cresting the summit and wondered what I was hearing.  There must be thousands and thousands of them around Summit Lake.  The hike from Lower Sardine to Upper Sardine is only 0.25 mile as a crow flies, but the trail is a mile as it zigs and zags up that steep trail.  Close to 500 ft. elevation gain from Lower to Upper Sardine Lake.

If you have time, do check out the cabins and mines.  There are at least three more cabins I didnít show plus many prospects, mines and adits to explore. 
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

TEX

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2014, 08:48:52 PM »
THX Hawk... AWESOME as usual. On my radar for one of my two remaining trips this year. Solitude and fishing...Ahhhhhh!
The E.S. is where I come to get back to sanity and to the real me.

wshawkins

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2014, 06:38:53 AM »
Tex, Did I say itís steep?  Like 4 miles and 2,000 ft. up a step climber!  But yes, there was great fishing and solitude once you get there.   :fishing3:
"It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe."

littlefish

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #13 on: August 10, 2014, 04:07:50 PM »
I've got the Sierra Jones BAAD!  Been hiking in our local mountains, Los Padres National Forest, Dick Smith Wilderness and San Rafael Wilderness.  I grew up hiking these mountains and to see them so dry breaks my heart.  There is some water in the higher elevations where the springs are still going and a few tough little trout still hanging on.  I follow the 100 degree rule; when it hits 100, I turn around. It was 103 Thursday at Piedra Blanca Creek.  Need to hear a nice Sierra creek and see some greenery.

20 Lakes Basin awaits mid September but I need an interim appetizer not to far from Ventura.  Looks like Onion Valley might be my best bet.  Any suggestions fro a nice 2 day trip?  Even thought of returning to NF Big Pine Creek because I didn't see 20 percent of what's up there.  Thanks for the tantalizing report.  lf

John Harper

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Re: Mono Pass Trail to Lower Sardine Lake
« Reply #14 on: August 11, 2014, 01:21:40 PM »
And then, thereís the end of the hike - a steep, punishing slog alongside Walker Lake, up to the trail head.  It says itís only 400 feet elevation gain, but I can hardly believe it.  It seems much more to me.  And steep, did I say that? I eventually make it over the ridge to my vehicle.

Made that part of the hike many times, I swear it's more like 600 feet.  Small camp area at the TH is one of my favorites.

John
« Last Edit: August 11, 2014, 01:24:57 PM by John Harper »