Our first training hike was Mono Pass out of Rock Creek. From Mammoth, we drove about 30 miles to the trail head at Rock Creek and 10,300 ft. The road is paved all they way and there is no charge to park at the trail head at Mosquito Valley. The trail head has a clean modern restroom (fully stocked with toilet paper) and adequate parking. I didn't need a trail pass or have to pay anything to park and do a day hike. This is quite different from hiking in Washington State where you pay $30.00 per year to park at the trailheads.
The trailhead is for two hikes, Little Lakes Valley and Mono Pass. The trail goes about ½ mile then splits. We took the right fork and headed up to Mono Pass. The flowers were spectacular. The end of July is a perfect time for wildflowers. Around the lakes, there were mosquitos but not too bad.
After we passed the junction to Ruby Lake, we got above both the tree line. We were passed several times by horse parties and mule packs out of Rock Creek. It is so dry at this altitude that there were few flies and the horseshit dried quickly. The mule urine was a bit smelly (like a barnyard) but much easier to take than Teanaway. It was very desolate but the views back down to Little Lakes were spectacular.
After 4 miles, we had climbed to the pass at 12,040. Breathing was a bit labored and we had a headache. Lunch time. We then climbed to the ridge and had a stunning view down to Pioneer Basin.
On the way down, we saw a bunch of runners. A SoCa high school track team was training. It was actually fun and inspiring to share the trail with the teenagers. But it was better back at the condo for a hot bath and beer.