The View from Above Mono Pass

In August 2012 our  hiking party set up camp at Ruby Lake, above Little Lakes Valley north of Bishop. The next day two of us climbed to the crest of the ridge directly above and to the west of 12,000 foot Mono Pass. Here at 12,700 feet we marveled at broad views across the Sierra and out over the Great Basin.

On the crest immediately to the south were two bigger mountains, broad-shouldered with the sloping remains of an ancient erosion surface–hinting at the immensity of time encapsulated in our view. Beyond, more high peaks of the crest towered into the distance. To the west, dramatic peaks and ridges rose above the deep trench of Mono Creek.

To the north we looked across forest surrounding a small lake bordered by deep green meadow. Above and to the right more meadows sheltered between rocky slopes. Above a bluff, spacious Pioneer Basin opened wide with blue lakes set in granite bowls dotted with scattered pines, survivors of the elements proving the force and tenacity of life. Among granite outcrops sat too many pocket meadows to count. A hiker would find a variety of bright wildflowers to appreciate there. Bees, other insects, and hummingbirds with their amazing hovering flight would be pollinating them.

Finally, turning to the east, over a lower ridge we gazed into the distance to mountain ranges stretching far across the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah.

As we absorbed all this we realized that we were part of all this and more. What an overwhelming thought, all the more overwhelming because it was real! What a blessing to be made an integral part of such a broad, amazing world! What knowledge to hold throughout our lives–appreciation and empowerment during good times, strength to persevere during bad.


About David McCoard

After earning my MS in geology I've done various things including managing the ski touring program at a small lodge in the Sierra. In 2010 I retired from Contra Costa College in California. I've always been fascinated by the mountains and nature and have spent countless days hiking, backpacking, climbing and skiing in the Sierra. The spiritual insights I've learned there have set the course for my life. Now I have time to share them and strike up a conversation.
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