Mammoth Mountain

Nine Days in the Eastern Sierras

Nine days to kill in the Eastern Sierra — what a great problem to have.

Of course there was the usual mountain biking, most likely relegated to Lower Rock Creek or other non-Mammoth Mountain locations. We wandered into the eastern side of Yosemite Park a couple days, and also hit a lot of other trails and creeks and lakes. We made one unsuccessful trip to Laurel Lakes.

As always, we got to see and experience lots of cool new things.

While driving north on CA-395, we stopped to see the Olancha Art Stuff - this piece apparently inspired by The Simpsons.
While driving north on CA-395, we stopped to see the Olancha Sculpture Garden — this piece apparently inspired by The Simpsons.
600 inches of winter snow in the Sierras translates to a ton of snow remaining in July. Creeks are flowing fast and full, and lakes crept into the forests.
600 inches of winter snow in the Sierras translates to a ton of snow remaining in July. Creeks are flowing fast and full, and lakes crept into the forests.
Saddlebag Resort was not open in July, and due to snow damage, would not be opening for the remainder of 2017. If you're looking to purchase a resort in the high Sierras, this one is for sale.
Saddlebag Resort was not open in July, and due to snow damage, would not be opening for the remainder of 2017. If you’re looking to purchase a resort in the high Sierras, this one is for sale. In the background is mostly-frozen Saddlebag Lake.
Non-plowed snow at the side of the road at Saddlebag Lake.
Non-plowed snow at the side of the road at Saddlebag Lake.

A photo sphere above Saddlebag Lake. Watch for pinkish Watermelon Snow.

And speaking of snow damage, the Tioga Pass Resort is also not opening for the season. Many cabins near the creek were still flooded.
And speaking of snow damage, the Tioga Pass Resort is also not opening for the season. Many cabins near the creek were still flooded.
The Tuolumne River flows through Tuolumne Meadows in eastern Yosemite. Much of the meadow is flooded.
The Tuolumne River flows through Tuolumne Meadows in eastern Yosemite. Much of the meadow is flooded.
Carol and I hiked a short section of the John Mu Trail in Tuolumne Meadows.
Carol and I hiked a short section of the John Mu Trail in Tuolumne Meadows.

Hiking around Convict Lake:

Suncups near the base of Mammoth Mountain Resort topped with road cinders. Suncups form during the ablation of snowy surfaces.
Suncups near the base of Mammoth Mountain Resort topped with road cinders. Suncups form during the ablation of snowy surfaces.
The top of Mammoth Mountain in July -- the smokey skies in the background are the result of burning wildfires on the western side of the Sierras.
The top of Mammoth Mountain in July — the smokey skies in the background are the result of burning wildfires on the western side of the Sierras.
Jan and Carol look at distant lakes from the top of Mammoth Mountain.
Jan and Carol look at distant lakes from the top of Mammoth Mountain.
Mammoth is planning to be open for skiing and snowboarding through mid-August. Not so good for us mountain bikers -- our only riding options were the baby trails at the bottom of the mountain -- not worth a day's lift pass.
Mammoth is planning to be open for skiing and snowboarding through mid-August. Not so good for us mountain bikers — our only riding options were the baby trails at the bottom of the mountain — not worth a day’s lift pass.

Hell yeah there’s skiing at Mammoth in July — Smokey more than adequately proves the point:

Back in Yosemite again -- this time on top of Pothole Dome, an easy hike with spectacular 360º views.
Back in Yosemite again — this time on top of Pothole Dome, an easy hike with spectacular 360º views.
Rocks on the top of Pothole Dome left behind from receding glaciers 20-30 years ago.
Rocks on the top of Pothole Dome left behind from receding glaciers 20-30 years ago.
The Tuolumne River experiencing a heavy flow this time of the year.
The Tuolumne River experiencing a heavy flow this time of the year.
Wildflowers near Dunderberg Mill.
Wildflowers near Dunderberg Mill.

Virginia Lake:

Lots of clear water flowing into Virginia Lakes -- let's celebrate by turning on our garden hoses!
Lots of clear water flowing into Virginia Lakes — let’s celebrate by turning on our garden hoses!
Any more, it's become a tradition to stop at the Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine. Awesome BBQ and even better BBQ sauce. Sorry foodies, no kale or tofu or keen-wah here.
Any more, it’s become a tradition to stop at the Copper Top BBQ in Big Pine. Awesome BBQ and even better BBQ sauce. Sorry foodies, no kale or tofu or keen-wah here.

Two Weekends in the Eastern Sierras

Two back-to-back weekends in the Eastern Sierras, with base camp at Mammoth Lakes.

The purpose of the first weekend was to attend the 2014 Kamikaze Mountain Bike Games, which were fast and fun and furious. The second weekend included riding Lower Rock Creek, Rock Creek Lake, Tom’s Place, and Saddlebag Lake; in Yosemite we hiked Mays Lake and Tuolumne Meadows on the east side of the Park.

Men's Pro Downhill at a <a title="Google Maps" href="http://goo.gl/maps/L91Lq" target="_blank">nasty rock garden</a> just below the top of Chair 16. As always, the photos don't do justice to the speed or steepness of the trail, or the skill of the rider. The guy with the megaphone on the left was very, very "enthusiastic," if you catch our drift.
Men’s Pro Downhill at a nasty rock garden just below the top of Chair 16. As always, the photos don’t do justice to the speed or steepness of the trail, or the skill of the rider. The guy with the megaphone on the left was very, very “enthusiastic,” if you catch our drift. And while we’re at it, more cow bell!

Dual downhill slalom at the Canyon Lodge at Mammoth Mountain. Grab and drag the photosphere to look around! Oh my Gawd, the guy with the red shirt doesn’t have any legs!

A photo sphere from the roof of the Canyon Lodge.

The Village in Mammoth Lakes was a ghost town after the mountain bikers left, and before the snow and skiers arrive. Many workers in town take advantage of the down-time to flee the town.
The Village in Mammoth Lakes was a ghost town after the mountain bikers left, and before the snow and skiers arrive. Many workers in town take advantage of the down-time to flee town.
Autumn aspen colors at Rock Creek Lake.
Autumn aspen colors at Rock Creek Lake.

A photo sphere of autumn color from above Rock Creek Lake. Take a look around.

Rock Creek Lake from above; Wheeler Ridge in the background.
Rock Creek Lake from above; Wheeler Ridge in the background.
Changing aspens along Warren Fork on the Tioga Pass Road, on the eastern side of Yosemite. This day was "get into National Parks for FREE!" day, where The Man lets us stick it to him.
Changing aspens along Warren Fork on the Tioga Pass Road, on the eastern side of Yosemite (the Park, not the OS). This day was “get into National Parks for FREE!” day, where The Man lets us stick it to him.
Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows.
Lembert Dome in Tuolumne Meadows.

Carol stands in the middle of a low-flow Tuolumne River in Yosemite.

Nine thousand foot elevation May Lake in Yosemite.
May Lake in Yosemite, around 9,200′ elevation.
While we were hiking around May Lake, a 2' thick layer of fog formed over one end of the lake, reminiscent of The Crawling Eye.
While we were hiking around May Lake, a 2′ thick layer of fog formed over one end of the lake, reminiscent of The Crawling Eye.
Snow arrives in the high country, delighting and amazing people from SoCal who never see the stuff.
Snow arrives in the high country, delighting and amazing people from SoCal who never see the stuff.
Dave McCoy's hard work gets dusted.
Dave McCoy’s hard work gets dusted.
The parking lot at Red's Lake.
The parking lot at Red’s Lake.
A very low water level at Horseshoe Lake - normally, the water would be just behind Carol.
A very low water level at Horseshoe Lake – normally, the water would be just behind Carol.
I'm here to report that the CO2 tree-kill area along the north shore of Horseshoe Lake is still dead. Soil gas in the tree-kill areas is composed of 20 to 90 percent CO2; there is less than 1 percent CO2 in soils outside tree-kill areas.
I’m here to report that the CO2 tree-kill area along the north shore of Horseshoe Lake is still dead. Soil gas in the tree-kill areas is composed of 20 to 90 percent CO2; there is less than 1 percent CO2 in soils outside tree-kill areas.
 11,561' Mt. Aggie right of center.
11,561′ Mt. Aggie right of center.