Kayaking Mono Lake, CA
My friend Gruppo and I headed to Mono Lake for a quick trip this spring. Prior to departure, we discovered that the islands in the middle of Mono Lake are closed to boaters for gull breeding April 1 to August 1… Pahoa Island is the larges of the islands. We did a short paddle along the shore of Mono Lake, and camped at the first legal campsite. It was an alien landscape – almost like being on the moon. The water did not taste salty – but was more like baking soda. We noticed that there was much less resistance on our paddle blades, which we could not explain. We camped along the beach, and endured occasionally strong winds, followed by periods of calm. The wind blew from any-which-way it chose. We managed to get a relatively calm paddle through South Tufa the next morning. Kayaking Mono lake can be a crapshoot because the winds can pick up ferociously at any time. Mono lake is a beautiful, remote, and quiet setting for kayaking. You will want to have a 4 season tent to withstand the winds, and be prepared for strong wind waves. The scenery amongst the Sierra is fantastic, and the Tufa towers are amazingly unique to visit from the water instead of land.
We followed this up with a trip to (ranger recommended) Crowley Lake – but were disappointed by the crowds of motor boats. We ended up hand-packing our gear towards Fern Lake (near Mammoth) only to find the trail buried in snow. The next day, we drove to Silver Lake along HWY 88, and experienced ice kayaking. We were pleased to find that our wetsuits were adequate for this 32F water, as we rinsed the Alkali salts from our boats.