Tour without a goal – 17 August 2015

Mono Lake

in the wind
seeing them on their way

through the devils gate
The high, rocky valley walls effectively block the sun both setting and rising leading to a truly cold night. I had to put on my raincoat in the morning to warmup. I had ridden part way up the pass getting to this campground but there was still nine miles to go. The wind was back early too but there was only three or miles left in the canyon and then things opened up and the wind was not always against me. I was surprised to see I was already at 7000′ which meant there was only about 500 more feet of climbing to Devils Gate Summit. This was a really rocky terrain, with trees barely clinging on and lots of sagebrush everywhere.

Two Lakes Valley

Descending from the Devils Gate I was in another of those big mountain meadows that was all grass and ranches. I stopped in the town of Bridgeport for supplies and lunch.

in the wide open valley
a single white crane
flys away

From there though it was on to the second summit of the day. It’s now early afternoon and pretty hot, especially in the valley. But for once the wind was with me and while not making the climb any easier it certainly helped. This was a much higher pass and the terrain was much more barren. Almost all barren hills dotted with extensive sagebrush. The sweet smell of sage was everywhere. In the distance across a massive plateau was high, stark rocky promontories one looking almost like ramparts. There was even a few patches of snow, but this was primarily, barren brown rock. Butterflies would often cross my path and dance around me before flying off. Overhead golden eagles (I think) circled and floated in the wind. Eventually the climb flattened out and I reached Conway Summit at a respectable 8138 feet.

birds and butterflies
playing in the hot summer wind

Coming down from the summit I turn a corner and there in the valley below is Mono Lake. The big blue on blue eye in the valley surround by stark white rocks and with a barren white Island on one edge. Really striking and an interesting place in this high mountain wilderness. It was almost drained away in the 80s until a committed group organized to protect the lake and the rivers that feed it. On one edge of it is the town of Lee Vining where I stopped to do laundry and get a bit more supplies as I head to Yosemite. Riding out of town I begin climbing a third pass, but only do 4 miles or so before pulling off and riding down a road to Aspen Campground. Right on the Lee Vining River there are a lot more trees here, and not just e titular aspens, but big firs and pines. I camped right on the river amongst a big stand of these trees.

the waning moon
dimly shining
through the trees

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