So, after two lovely days of skiing we decided to swap our skis for hiking boots - drastically more comfy footwear to be sure!
The internet is frustratingly tuned into either winter ideas or summer ideas for Mammoth and its surroundings. The Red Meadows and Devils Postpile (an inland version of our Giants Causeway - stacks of hexagonal rocks that crystallized slowly from magma) are the main ones that search engines throw out, but the road to there is closed to traffic during the winter and only accessible in the summer via a bus. Cars are simply not allowed into that valley. The braver and more hardy could walk the 7 or 8 miles to the trail heads, but we were warned against doing that. Apparently the November snow is still lying in the valley.
In the end we had to get our information the old fashioned way. We drove to the tourist information office. Finding the actual address for it online was a tedious task given that the internet for the room was patchy, but in the end we got it. We managed to talk to a real human being, which helped immensely seeing that I was getting dizzy on the merri-go-round of
"Where can we hike?"
"Devils Post pile, but the roads are closed"
"So where can we hike?'
We got a newletter, on real "newspaper" paper and it had great deal more information for us. This information is probably online but to find it you'd have to ask the right questions or at least type in the name of a feature like "Minarets Vista" to get some snippet of information embedded in a vast array of info on The Devils Post pile. If you don't know first where to hike then all you get is Devil's Postpile. See the problem?
I've noticed this "tourism tunnel vision" before. For example, even though there are lots of gorgeous places to visit in the Sierra's, Yosemite is pushed to the forefront every time - forget the rest! And Yosemite IS fabulous, but there are other things to see in California. Just like there are other things to see besides the Devils Postpile in Mammoth.
So we persevered. We established what was feasible to do in the conditions we had and planned to hike three days and ski on the last day.
Minarets Vista is a 3 mile round trip from the Mammoth Inn. Not a huge distance for our first day hiking but it was at an elevation of 9000ft.
And the road was covered in snow most of the way.
The road down from this point looked clear and we walked to the corner to see how it looked beyond that - the same.
Can you see how it got its name ? I think it looks like a big slouchy mammoth.
We only got as far as Twin Lakes, which were completely frozen.
Hot Creek gets its name from the geothermally heated water which joined the creek.
places where you could get into the spring's water in baths. Again, a big secret and hard to get information on in the village and resort!
There is a fish hatchery here. It may be of interest to people who like fishing (if they let you fish).
But despite our frustrations at feeling like we were not "allowed" to do things due to a conspiracy of withheld information (or just pure dumbness at finding it out on our behalf) we headed for our hotel looking forward to soaking in the bath. At least I could find the hot tap.
As we left the dirt road that leads to the Hot Creek we spotted these locals. Cute!
More Mammoth hiking to come...