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July 7, 1863: Mono Plain

July 7, 2013

Mono Pass Trail 15

Mono Lake, from the head of Bloody Canyon; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr


Camp 120

[Today] we were astir early, packed up, and crossed the Mono Pass, and descended to the plain near Mono Lake. It has now been just two weeks since we have been lower than 8,600 feet, having had a decidedly “high time.” For two weeks we have slept in the open air, entirely without shelter, at altitudes sometimes a thousand feet higher than the Great St. Bernard in Switzerland, the nights clear, and freezing every night; now we descend to a valley, a lower region, but still higher than the highest of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.

Mono Basin 10

Flats south of Mono Lake; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

After crossing the pass, the way leads down Bloody Canyon—a terrible trail. You would all pronounce it utterly inaccessible to horses, yet pack trains come down, but the bones of several horses or mules and the stench of another told that all had not passed safely. The trail comes down three thousand feet in less than four miles, over rocks and loose stones, in narrow canyons and along by precipices. It was a bold man who first took a horse up there. The horses were so cut by sharp rocks that they named it “Bloody Canyon,” and it has held the name—and it is appropriate—part of the way the rocks in the trail are literally sprinkled with blood from the animals. We descended safely, and camped in the high grass and weeds by a stream a short distance south of Lake Mono. This camp had none of the picturesque beauty of our mountain camps, and a pack of coyotes barked and howled around us all night.

Mimulus 03

Mimulus nanus var. mephiticus, south of Mono Lake; by Tom Hilton, on Flickr

Specimens collected: Carex douglasii; Carex pellita; Thelypodium crispum; Allium bisceptrum var. bisceptrum; Mimulus nanus var. mephiticus.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2013 5:29 pm

    Nice shots, I did that hike up and down 26 years ago. I don’t remember it being all that bad, but they weren’t running horses and mules on it then. http://www.flickr.com/photos/tclifton/389880856/in/photolist-AscTV-AscTX-AseZJ/

  2. William H. Brewer permalink*
    July 9, 2013 4:26 pm

    Nice! I didn’t make it to the old mining remains when I was there…having come up from sea level that day, I was running out of steam…

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