Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mono Diggings - March 2017

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A weekend with P³

Our friend Ted walks a fabled path in a world foreign to the Lady and me. The two of us know nothing about alcoholic beverages - we do not drink - other than the observed effects of the downing of bud or coors by other campers we avoid at all costs. Ted is world class. A connoisseur of exquisite brews. He knows his stuff. He should be known as Mr. Pliny as he always seems to have a cherished bottle or two of the truly legendary double pale ale, Pliny the Elder brewed by Russian River Brewing. I have considered calling Ted the Pliny Pied Piper (or P³ ) because when Ted's magic flute like voice moves across the landscape..................Pliny appears.

And Ted is far from alone in his opinion. The reviews are incredible, replete with rapturous language -

"From the very first time I had this beer, I knew it was something special, yet so austere and seemingly 'simple' that it really does exceed the sum of its parts. Here is potentially the single best double IPA in the world. A consistent, sublime experience captured in a pint glass to be savored and enjoyed."

A desire to "just get away" brought us together with the Teds. A stormy forecast for the weekend, moved over, late in the week, to maybe "not so bad." "Not so bad" could work, especially when pushed by that desire "to just get away."

We met early Friday evening on the very edge of the Mono Basin where plowing ended on the Virginia Lakes Road just up from 395's Conway Summit. The Sierra Wave confirmed the passing weather front.

Ted started in on building dinner for his bride as we took her for a walk to take in the snowpack and evening light.

This plowed area is used mostly by snowmobilers, many with cabins in the Virginia Lakes area. Although we were surprised by the number of parked vehicles, it was a quiet restful night.

The Lady and I walked on the hard snow before dawn the next morning. It was the kind of morning we live for.

The Teds spent the day snowshoeing up the Virginia Lakes Road. The Lady and I spent the day checking out winter (now that after several years we have a real snowpack!) access in several nearby areas. We ventured down into the Mono Lake Basin. Among our discoveries was a historic cemetery.

We explored the west side of the Mono Craters and enjoyed a quiet lunch.

Included in our assignment for the day was to find a lonely, secluded camp spot for Saturday night. We returned to Virginia Lakes Road and found the Teds back from their snowshoe adventure. They agreed to try out the spot we had found for the night.

We were back in the Mono Diggings area, one of the first gold strikes on the east side of the Sierra Nevada. If you can find a copy of this local book - Mono Diggings -what it may lack in writing style is more than made up by wonderful tidbits of local history and stories.

We were settled in by mid afternoon and the Teds were up for an exploratory walk uphill from camp.


We came upon sections of the water ditch system built in 1861 to supply water for placer mining.

We watched the storm move over the Sierra crest toward us.

We were amazed by the ability of the pinyons to take root and survive in cracks in the granite outcrops.

This was beautiful terrain complete with signs of ancient habitation.

We relaxed back at camp as the storm clouds moved over us from the west. The Teds always provide fun food treats!

The Lady loves beets and soon had red fingertips, red lips, and a red face to prove it. Rocks were added to the table immediately after I took the above photo to keep the goodies and plates from blowing away.

I shouldn't have been surprised, but as soon as we were settled out of the wind against the leeward side of Ted's truck a Pliny appeared out of the brushy backdrop. P³ had again worked his magic.

We camped near an abandoned homestead. The wind out of the west brought scattered spurts of rain. The Sierra crest was shrouded in storm.

Strong winds stirred up billowing dust on the distant lake shore.

The wind direction changed as we ate dinner and the clouds moved off of the crest. Our hopes grew for a clearing evening.

The main house had a concrete pad on the west side. I suggested we all move our chairs to this sheltered spot. The winds calmed, the stars broke through above, coyotes erupted in song around us. The air was so clear we could see the lights of a groomer operating on the ski slopes of June Mountain. It was an incredible evening in a wondrous place with special friends.

The Lady stirred, as she always does, before first light. She snuggled close, as she always does, and asked the questions that are so familiar - "Decadence?"  Translation: let's turn on the furnace to warm up the interior of the camper - and "Coffee time?" No translation necessary.

We walked hand in hand in the midst of this spectacular dawn.

We found Ted enjoying the view from the porch.

It was time to head our separate ways and say goodbye to this special place.

A special thank you to the Teds for their company this weekend.


  1. Sounds as if you had a great time. Thanks for taking us along!!

    1. Steve, thank you for the nice comment!

  2. Replies
    1. Yes it was! Thanks for checking in.

  3. Looks like you had a special time. It felt a little eerie seeing graveyards and homes in an area so remote. Those were very hardy folk back then. Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Happyjax, thanks for the nice comment. They were hardy folk back then. Some, I expect, were a bit foolish too. It is humbling to spend time in these quiet places and let the stories of the past seep in.

  4. Magnificent pre-sunrise shots -- I admire your ability to get out of a warm bed to get those photos! Thanks, as always, for posting.

    1. Dan, thanks, as always, for your kind comments. We so appreciate them. Early mornings are our favorite times!