Program Overview: On this backpacking trip to the Mono Pass area, you will camp two nights in a stunning spot nestled among whitebark pine (Pinus albicaulis) near the shores of Summit Lake (10,600 ft). The camp is surrounded by the talus slopes of Mt Gibbs and Mt Lewis where Sierra Nevada Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis sierrae) forage this time of year. Nearby are numerous ponds and meadows that provide ideal habitat for a few species that are only found in the Sierra Nevada of California — Yosemite toads (Anaxyrus canorus) and Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs (Rana sierrae). These four species are alpine specialists that are federally listed as threatened or endangered, and it is possible that you could see all of them during this trip.
A visit from Roland Knapp, a research biologist who has been working closely on the recovery of Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs for decades, is a highlight of the trip. Not only is Roland a biologist, but he is an incredible storyteller and teacher. By the time you leave, you will be peering in every puddle, pond and lake and noticing the rich diversity and drama unfolding in these alpine aquatic ecosystems. Roland will catch tadpoles, adults and subadults of these species so that you can see them up close.
You’ll also learn about Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, the causes of the decline of the species and their road to recovery while hoping to catch a glimpse of them too. The whitebark pine and its relationship with the Clark’s nutcracker is another fascinating story that your naturalist will relate to you.
Other wildlife that are sometimes seen in the area include pika, marmot, Pacific treefrog, white-tailed jackrabbit, and many birds like prairie falcon, eagles, hawks, Clark’s nutcrackers and more.
This will be a small group with ample time to relax, learn and soak in the scenery. The alpine elevations are stunning. It will be helpful if you can spend time at high elevations before the start of the trip to acclimate.
Know Before You Go
- Program dates: Thursday, July 25, evening meeting 6:30pm-8 pm. Start hike at 9am Friday, July 26 and exit Sunday, July 28 by 3pm.
- Program location: Starting near Tuolumne Meadows backpacking on the Mono Pass Trail
- What’s included: A three day backpack trip with guided instruction by Researcher Roland Knapp and a Yosemite Naturalists, park entry (as needed), Wilderness permit, bear canister rental (as needed), and shared tent camping before and after the trek (camping dates cannot be altered). There is no discount if you choose not to use the included gate pass or campsite.
- Camping dates: Participants can arrive on July 25 after 12pm and must depart July 26. After the backpack, participants can arrive on July 28 after 12pm and depart July 29 by 11am. There are three shared campsites among all the participants. We guarantee tent camping only. If you choose to bring a recreational vehicle, we cannot guarantee you will have a parking spot. Please be prepared to tent camp. A picnic table, bear locker and firepit are provided at each site. Campsites fit 6 people per site.
- Campground Location: White Wolf
- Experience level: Previous experience hiking at high elevations is recommended. Everyone must be physically fit to walk at 10,000 ft with a heavy backpack.
What’s not included:
- Gear or meals during your program.
- Camping gear or meals in the shared campsites.