Well we did it! Fighting fear (Kit) and knee recovery (Alan), we hiked eight miles to over 12,000 feet at Mono Pass!
The first portion of this trail can be found on Trails.com, so for specifics on condition, etc., please check there. As for our specifics: It was a lovely day with a long uphill (2+ miles) to our lunch spot at Ruby Lake. We started near 10,000 feet and Ruby brought us to 11,000 something. I was feeling nauseous but forced myself to eat my sandwich and drink a ton of water. Alan’s knee was doing great and, since we didn’t see any fish in the lake, (and I was afraid I’d lose my nerve), we started up the pass without much of a break.
I was fighting the memories of my altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro (and in Machu Pichu for that matter) with each step up the steep last 1.5 miles. The trail is good, about 2’ wide but cuts into a mountainside of loose rock—one step off the trail and you could slide right on down. River, being new to the concept of switch-backs (but always in the lead), would simply continue to walk straight when the trail switched back on itself--walking right into the loose rock. If I had any heart-beat to spare it would have pounded even more at the sight of her trying to negotiate a u-turn on the slippery, sandy, rock slope. But she worked her four-wheel drive, and, I am proud to report, she didn’t miss a switch back all the way down.
We stopped half-way up and I coughed a little which freaked me out as this was the first indication of my breathing trouble on Kilimanjaro. So I said, “Let’s keep going.” The trail was freaking me out a little too: Too much space between your little trail and the bottom of the mountain. I was much relieved when we turned the corner on that mountain and ended up between two more. One on each side was very comforting.
My coughing didn’t get any worse and we made it to the summit around 3:00 p.m. – a little later than we had hoped. We didn’t stay long as it was already cold and, with the sun sinking, becoming colder by the minute. Quick snack, quick drink, lots of pictures, and we started back down.
It was a slow return, taking us 2.5 hours to do the four miles back as our joints were stiffening quickly and the rock steps on the lower half of the trail seemed to have grown a good foot and a half during the afternoon.
We made it home, took a nice hot shower (oh so thankful Salt has a shower and we have a water hook-up!), ate grilled cheese sandwiches with soup (Oreos for dessert) and hit the sack soon after.
It is now 9:00 a.m. the next day and the dogs have barely moved yet. Alan had to ask them twice if they wanted to go out for a walk this morning. Looks like a great day for a little creek fishing and not much else.