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  Monitor Pass

The two striking things about Monitor Pass are: 1. It is the perfect vantage point to get an overview of all the major ranges and peaks in the area, or as the case may be: a last goodbye view of all the areas visited. The second thing, that you can't help but be impressed by, is the striking difference between the landscapes to the east and the west of the pass. To the east: dessert valleys and naked rock outcrops. During my visit, background to this scene was a sky ful of smoke, put there by the burning Pine Nut Mountains. Descending west of the pass, there is still plenty of sagebrush, but the high alpine peaks appear in the distance.

1.(5530ft,mile00.0)START-END EAST ALTERNATE: East Fork Carson River crossing, immediately east of Markleyville
2.(5720ft,mile04.7)START-END EAST: jct Ca89 to Monitor Pass and Ca4 to Ebbetts Pass
3.(7330ft,mile08.3)jct with Leviathan Mine Road on left
4.(8314ft,mile12.6)TOP: Monitor Pass
5.(7940ft,mile13.3)jct with Big Springs Rd on left
6.(6190ft,mile17.7)jct with Golden Gate Rd on left
7.(5090ft,mile20.9)START-END EAST: jct Ca89-US395


From West. Immediately south of Markleeville Ca89 reaches a low point, when it crosses the East Fork of the Carson River. The road gently follows the creek in a curvy sagebrush canyon, at times climbing a hundred feet above it, with scenic view onto the many fishermen below. In a place labeled Mount Bullion on maps, the routes split. This profile goes up the left side to Monitor Pass, while Ca4 keeps following the Carson River to Ebbetts Pass.

Ca4 climbs in a canyon filled with sagebrush and shrub forest. After a good workout, the road swings up a few far flung switchbacks and vistas stretching more than 180 degrees. The most striking feature are the two sets of peaks on each side of Ebbetts Pass: the ragged ridgeline of the peaks in the Mokelumne Peaks in the distance to the west, next to it a higher obtuse triangle shaped peak in the Carson - Iceberg Wilderness. Then there are the smaller rock outcrops around Kit Carson Pass. Long before the road reaches the summit, the view also stretches north to the mountains lining the east side of Lake Tahoe.


The road reaches for a high point in the forest. That must be the summit for sure. But the road has one more surprise in store. It crosses an inclined plate shaped depression in one straight line. This summit meadow of sorts is not an alpine meadow, but still filled with sagebrush. At this elevation on Ebbetts Pass, the surroundings would be alpine already, but you would not have such far reaching vistas.

At the summit two pass signs on each side of the road face each other. One is a modern generic green sign. The other looks more like a headstone, containing only the name and the date of dedication.

From East. (described downwards) On this side no trees to get into the way of far views. The road snakes down in wide, fast turns. The map labels the rock outcrops to the north as "Stinking Valley". The road can be seen far below, still waving snake like through the dessert grasses. As the temperature has become much hotter, the road exits into Antelope Valley through a set of gate like cliffs.

During my ride, for some reason I assumed that I would descend into Carson Valley. This comes from the simplified view of seeing the west landscape as an endless, orderly set of north south running valleys and ridges. But to my surprise I had to cross another low summit to get to Carson Valley: the Simee Dimeh Summit.


Dayride with this point as highest summit:


( < Pacific Grade Summit | Forestdale Divide > )
Monitor Pass , Ca89 woodfords - Markleeville s(u) , Simee-Dimeh Summit:
jct Ca89 - Ca4 (Mt Bullion) > up Ca4 > Monitor Pass > US395 north > Topaz Lake > Simeh Dimee Summit > Gardnerville > Riverside Drive West > Ca756 west > Centerville > Ca88 north <> short out and back to end of pavement on a road opposite to Ca296 > Woodfords > Ca89 south > Markleeville > back to starting point: 69.7miles with 5570ft of climbing in 6:45hrs. (VDO MC1.0 r2:13.7.6)
Notes: I would say it was hot, but reportedly it was actually much cooler than the days before when I was hiding out on top of Ebbets Pass.


Modern Roads: This pass is the result of road building in the 1950s, one of the newest road mountain passes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Before this all the traffic remained below, following the Carson River into Carson Valley, barely a detour, compared to crossing this pass