“The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too.” Hervey Voge
The Mono Pass Trail originating at the Mosquito Flat Trailhead is truly a majestic hike that encompasses high terrain, numerous beautiful high lakes and vistas of the lakes below in the Rock Creek Valley, all culminating in a 12,000+ feet pass. The trail shares the same bed with the Little Lakes Valley trail for the first few minutes, but soon divides off to the right and quickly gains some elevation with numerous, long switchbacks. After twenty minutes or so one can begin to gain views of the valley below with the many sparkling lakes shining.
One jewel of a lake on this trail is Ruby Lake, which can be reached by a short access trail leading off from the main trail. The trail winds alongside the creek, which feeds out of the lake and up to the crystal clear lake itself. As of this hike on Memorial Day Weekend 2013, the lake still possessed ice patches and was surrounded by snow. The clearness of the water allows one to see to the bottom and view numerous fish swimming in their mountain home.
As one approaches 12,000 feet, the air becomes thinner and breathing becomes more difficult. The landscape begins to change too, featuring fewer trees and eventually resembling a sort of lunar landscape with only rock and snow predominating once nears the pass.
To access this hike, take U.S. route 395 north or south through the Owens Valley of eastern California to a hamlet called Tom’s Place and turn onto Rock Creek Road. Follow this road about 9 miles to the Mosquito Flat trailhead, where there is a usually full parking lot. Along the Rock Creek Road are numerous campsites and of course you can obtain a wilderness permit and camp in the backcountry if you wish.