We had hoped to spend this past weekend huntin’ for corn snow up around Tioga Pass, but the forecasted precip did arrive, and came in wet enough to encourage us to hit Mammoth for some resort skiing instead.
While we knew it would be a wet storm, we didn’t factor in the ridiculous winds that kept most of the mountain shut and made visibility optional. We skied anyway, but quit midday when goretex layers had become saturated, and headed to our digs at June Lake, where the weather was windy but not so wet. Since neither of us had really walked around the town of June Lake, we figured a faux-urban hike would be a way to see parts of the area we tend to overlook for the more exciting hiking trails of the nearby Ansel Adams Wilderness.
In doing so we discovered a bit of history – June Lake, like many other Eastern Sierra towns, had a mining history. Its history was a mere 5 years (1924-29) but resulted in a fair bit of ore from the various shafts located in the slope above Gull Lake. Who knew?
Entrance to the mine
Coupled with the first pilgrimage of the season to the Whoa Nellie Deli, where we were rewarded with amazing vistas of clouds and the Sierra Wave along with our fish tacos and mango margaritas, it ended up being a lovely escape from Tahoe.
While the dog was slow to pick up on the special bed in front of the gas fireplace in our hotel room, she didn’t really move much once she discovered how soft it was.
She's not moving
Suffice to say she’s not finding her beds at the house (which are most definitely not of the $250 variety) as soft as she used to.
It was only Monday last I looked. How did it become mid-September already?
The wind from our Labor Day trip to Mammoth must have pushed the time by all the quicker. It’s quite versatile, that wind. Not only did it exfoliate my face with the help of the pumice that’s native to Mammoth, but it kept thing exciting at our hotel, the Tamarack Lodge, by rattling windows and trees and gusting to ridiculous speeds (I heard 95 mph on the local weather).
Despite the unusual weather, it was refreshing to get out of Dodge for a weekend and enjoy some cooler temps, different scenery and see old friends. N had spent Saturday morning doing maintenance on the Ski Club Lodge (a keeping it real quonset hut perched on some prime Mammoth real estate), so we stole a few hours in the afternoon to do a short hike. That meant Mammoth frontcountry, which is polluted with people, many of whom have no clue about hiking etiquette. N had words with some retards who insisted on cutting the trail, and the idiots acted contrite but continued to do so until he caught up with them again. However, there was a lake within short distance which meant the dog could swim, so we suffered stupidity for her needs.
She amused the various groups of Japanese tourists (there were many) who weren’t familiar with a dog prancing with a log.
Most people just hike to and from the lake, but we continued another half hour up the trail to the Mammoth Crest, which is well worth it for the views.
The best part of the hike was the descent – it took only 20 minutes to descend what took an hour to climb, and got us back to the Tamarack Lodge in time for cocktail hour.
Despite sharing Mammoth Mountain with 80 trillion folks from Los Angeles this past weekend, we still managed to avoid crowds and find plenty of that glory wind buff snow that’s unique to the Eastern Sierra. We planned our trip to coincide with Mammoth Mountaineering’s annual Telebration event, where freeheelers and meadow skippers descend upon the mountain to demo skis, take free lessons, and celebrate their weird ski binding. Both N and I tested skis, and he got himself onto a new boot/binding system – the Crispi EVO NTN. He was so enamored by it that he ended up buying a pair that night, which goes to show you that free demos do have their benefits.
I tried out a number of women specific tele skis, primarily to serve as comparison against those that I have and will review for Telemarktips. I particularly liked the new G3 Luscious, if only because of the cool name and fun polka dot graphics that reminded me of my very first pair of telemark skis, Dynastar’s Fat Mollys.
While the warming temperatures at Lake Tahoe had created spring conditions at lower elevations, Mammoth’s snow was still wintery (hooray for high elevation!), and the winds buffed out a lot of the moguls, giving us a clean slate each morning. I didn’t let the lingering effects of my cold hinder my ski days, which some thought might not have been a wise choice, but I’d have to be hospital bound before I gave up a day (or 3) skiing at Mammoth.
Overall a great weekend, even with the collective stupidity at level 11. But what can you expect when you’re sharing the mountain with half of Southern California?
Monday night the “Tahoe Crud” broadsided me out of nowhere, giving me no advance warning until I was huddled by the fire, coughing and achy. I refuse to accept that this might be the result of me playing too hard. Pfft. After all, you sleep when you’re dead, right?
I forced myself to take two days off, which wasn’t ‘off’ really, considering I had work and presentations to give and meetings and whatnot. Today’s foray into the pool made me realize that perhaps another day off would have been a good thing. Especially considering that we’re leaving for 3 days in Mammoth tomorrow morning – and you *know* I’m not going to be resting there!
With between 7-12 feet of new snow at the Tahoe resorts and 9 or so feet at Mammoth, we’ll have great ski conditions in the Sierra for awhile. The best news is that the snow survey is saying that snow levels here are at 94% of average snow pack as of today. It was at 53% on January 1st.
What with Mammoth having received a bit more snow than the Tahoe resorts, and what with our new and unused MVP passes taunting us, we packed up the dog and headed down the 395 for a long weekend of skiing on more than the handful of open runs we’ve seen up here.
It felt fabulous to let the skis just run again. Mammoth’s great for absorbing the trillion or so folks that frequent it on the weekends, so even with a full parking lot at Chair 2, we were able to carve out high speed GS turns without being too worried about hitting anyone besides the odd rock.
Marsha Brady, as interpreted by Marker
Plus I received lots of compliments on my Marsha Brady ski pants. A guy on the gondola told me I had to be a good skier to wear them (and in his head he was no doubt thinking ‘those obnoxious pants’). How wrong he was….
After two perfect days of skiing, today’s ‘nu-cu-ler’ high winds, which severely slowed down the lifts, and my Christmas Cold (bad Santa just sent it my way…jerk) convinced me to quit after an hour. I had no energy to even cross country ski with the mutt, which meant something was seriously wrong.
Home now with a fire roaring, I’m enjoying resting, and hoping my legs don’t fail me tomorrow. Merry Christmas!
A winter storm blew through here yesterday, but it didn’t quite deliver on the expectations of BIG SNOW. That’s because the damn thing split, sending snow to the north and to the south, giving Mammoth snowfall in the double digits. Here? Not so much.
That said, there was an inch or two on the driveway this morning, so I made the most of it and forced the dog out of her warm and lazy slumber for a cross country ski. I’m glad I did, because that snow I skied through at 8 am will be gone later today.
More snow is “supposed” to come tonight, but we’re already making plans to go to Mammoth this weekend, as they have more terrain and lifts running than any Lake Tahoe ski resort.
While I’ve not gotten a whole lot of time on my mountain bike this summer (partly because my favorite after work ride is now an ash-ridden – and closed – trail), I’ve tried to make the most of those days I am on it, riding longer and harder than previous summers. This weekend was no exception, with a full day (52 miles, thankyouverymuch) of lift-assisted single-track pumice goodness at Mammoth Mountain.
With protective arm and leg gear and a phat new front tire, I was feeling pretty good by the second run, surprising even myself with the speed I was picking up. While I can’t keep up with the 195-pound boyfriend on all the downhill trails, I am able to hold my own, which many men don’t comprehend.
Case in point: the keeping it real grey haired dude mountain biking in topsiders and leg armor that let the 4 guys just ahead of me pass and then promptly cut me off so he could feel good about himself being faster than a chick. Yet I ended up riding his tail (the mountain biking equivalent of tailgating) because he wasn’t faster than I am. Or the trio of fun-loving punter guys who we passed on a fairly technical trail, only to have the chubbiest of the group promptly tail me down a steep rocky section until I dismounted because I was scared he was going to roll over me with his accumulated speed.
Despite seeing far more men than women riding at Mammoth most days, there were a lot more women there this time around, many far more hard core than I’ll ever be. Think full downhill gear (chest pads that make you resemble a football player), goggles and full face helmets with groovy pink jewels glued onto them. I didn’t see those grrls ride, but no doubt they were really the ones kicking ass and taking names. And since my sense of self-preservation is very strong, I highly doubt I’ll ever be that awesome.