By: Rachel McCullough
Where: Mono Pass, Yosemite
When: September 2023
“Expect to see lots of bighorn sheep carcasses” isn’t quite what one wants to hear embarking on a 4-day backpack trip in Yosemite National Park and the Ansel Adam Wilderness. But that piece of news from the ranger station, along with threatening clouds is how our foray into the wilderness started.
Apparently, the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep do not like big winters as much as powder-seeking skiers. Last winter, the herd got caught up in an avalanche in the steep and rocky high-elevation terrain around Mono Pass and about a third of it perished. And we were likely to see the results of this and the mountain lions' feasts.
What started as a felt-longer-than-it-really-was slog up to our camp at 10,400 ft, with everyone feeling the altitude and their heavy packs, wondering what the clouds were going to do and when these carcasses would appear ended up being 4 joy-filled days in the mountains exploring lakes and even a 12,300-foot peak!
Here’s a photo tour:
Our campspot at Upper Sardine Lake, with a view of Mono Lake.
The snow was still taller than I am! Photo credit: Phillip Romano
Views from our day hike to Parker Pass Lake.
The rocky summit of Mt. Lewis at 12,300 ft.
Views from the Mt. Lewis summit at 12,300 ft (the elevation on the marker is wrong!)
Hoping the clouds don’t open up! Photo credit: Nicolas Smith
Pink snow! Photo credit: Nicolas Smith
Evidence of bighorn sheep.
Lots of abandoned mines and mining cabins.
Of course the last day had completely blue skies after the clouds threated us most of the trip! Photo credit: Nicolas Smith
Author: Rachel McCullough
Rachel never turns down an adventure, whether it’s a dawn patrol or polar swim (without a wetsuit!). Rain or shine, she’s motivated to get outside. Besides playing in the mountains, you’ll find her at the helm of McCullough Web Services, the company she founded to help clients improve their online presence with impeccably-designed and easy-to-use websites.