Laura and Lee's Mammoth Meanderings

September 4-7, 1998

Friday, September 4

We had been having very hot, humid temperatures in San Diego, so were rather relieved when we work up to overcast skies and cooler temperatures. Still, the cool weather was not really what we had been expecting. We got on the road, and had rain/drizzle for close to half of our 6 hour drive. If you'd told me that I'd drive through the Mojave desert in the summer time during the day and NOT need air conditioning I'd have said you were crazy, but we didn't turn it on at all - and it was only 66 when we arrived in Bishop - about 30 degrees cooler than usual!

We stopped at Schat's Bakery in Bishop to stock up on bread and some cookies...we got a loaf of *fresh* cinnamon pull-apart bread - that didn't last very long. :-)

We drive right past a lot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and normally the scenery is pretty nice, but on this day you couldn't see anything but clouds..."Mountains? What mountains?" :-)

We arrived at my parents' house, aka the Wistful Vista Inn about 2:30, and said hello to everyone. The weather cleared enough that we took my brother's dog for a couple mile walk - or maybe she took *us* for a walk - she walked a lot further than we did. :-)

In addition to my parents, my brother Gary, his girlfriend Sia, Sia's brother Bill, and his girlfriend Cheryl, were also staying there... we all went out to dinner that night at a Mexican place called Gomez' in Mammoth. We had to wait for a while, because a HUGE group of families was there in front of us...there must have been 30 people. They were LOUD, too - the place quieted down immensely when they left - you could tell the wait staff was relieved, too. :-) We had a really good dinner - the food was very good and different from what I've had before.

Saturday, September 5

Well, it wasn't a sunny day...but at least it wasn't raining. Still not much sign of the mountains, though. Sia, Bill, and Cheryl had just come out from a backpack trip on Friday, and their final day had been VERY rainy, so everything they had was wet. They turned the front of the house into a huge drying rack - we all especially liked Bill's scheme for drying the tent - makes a nice colorul flag, don't you think? :-)

Lee and I headed up to Mammoth for the annual Labor Day craft fair, and took stuff with us to go hiking after that. The craft fair was a bit disappointing and we didn't stay very long - and we didn't buy anything at all, which may be a first.

We're used to being up here with other people, so it felt a bit strange for just the two of us to go out and do something by ourselves...but we managed to adapt. :-)

We drove to the Inyo Craters after that, and walked the 1/4 mile to the first crater - surprise, surprise, it's a big hole in the ground. :-) There's a chain of three of them right together, and they are believed to have been to have been formed 500-700 years ago. The entire area around Mammoth is part of the Long Valley Caldera, and there's a lot of signs of volcanic activity in the area - hot springs, steam vents, old lava flows, volcanic craters - Mammoth Mtn. itself is a dormant volcano.

We walked over to the second crater which seems to be older since there are a lot more trees growing in it. To get to the third one (aka Deer Mountain) we had to climb up about 600 feet - it didn't look that bad, but once we got on the volcanic stuff the footing wasn't very good, and it was steep and slippery. Lee had to pull me up one place because I just couldn't get a foot hold. From the top we could see a much easier route down, though. :-)

The picture of us at the top of this page was taken at the summit of Deer Mountain.

Normally there would have been a pretty nice view from there - Mammoth Mountain, the Glass Mountains, the White Mountains, and the Sierra, but the clouds obscured most of it. We had lunch and went back down to the car, and drove to Convict Lake.

Convict Lake is so named because in 1871 a group of escaped convicts were cornered there, though several escaped. Unfortunately one of the men leading the posse, Morrison, was killed - the peak above Convict Lake, Mt. Morrison, was named in his honor. There were a LOT of people there fishing - we walked partway around the lake, and every bare section of shoreline had someone on it.

There were some signs along the lake that talked about the geology of the area, especially the glaciers, and we learned that the word "moraine" is French for "rubbish heap". Moraine sounds a lot nicer... :-)

We went back to the house and relaxed for the rest of the day - there was a pretty significant rain shower late in the afternoon. We still hadn't been able to see the mountains. :-)

Sunday, September 6

We started the day off with my dad's famous 84 year old Egyptian Waffles - just like mummy used to make. :-) He makes them in an old round waffle maker - it was originally intended for use on wood stoves. We even had REAL maple syrup to go on them...

After breakfast, we all went our separate ways...Dad and Lee went tp Bishop to play golf, Gary and Sia went up to Mono Lake, and Bill and Cheryl and I went up Rock Creek to go hiking. We could actually sort of see the mountains this morning, and it looked like it might be a nice day, but once we got up there, what little sun we had quickly disappeared...and we could see very little of the mountains.

We had decided to go up to Mono Pass (elevation 11,920) - it's about 3.5 miles and 1800' up - the trailhead is at about 10,200. About 1/2 mile up the trail it started to drizzle, and we put on our rain jackets. That continued off and on (mostly on) all the way up to the pass. The clouds had rolled back a bit so that we could see some of the mountains, but it was still a very gray day. It was chilly and a bit windy so we didn't stay long - had a quick snack, took some photos, and were on our way.

We stopped below Ruby Lake in a grove of trees to have lunch - it was still drizzly and chilly, though, so we ate fairly quickly before we got chilled. We got back to the car and within a few miles it had stopped raining...and by the time we got back to my parents' house (about 12 miles straight north) it was even partly sunny, and we could actually see the mountains! Though it was still gray back in the valley we'd been in.

Even this late in the season there were still a lot of wildflowers blooming - but with the big snow year they had a late spring, too. I found this very nice fireweed growing next to the creek.

Lee played his first round of golf ever and had a good time - but he didn't keep score. :-) He said he mad two double bogeys, though. :-)

That night Mom had invited some of the neighbors over for a potluck dinner - there were 16 of us. Everything was really good, though the highlight was the homemade chocolate ice cream that Gary made. :-)

Monday, September 7

Of course, since it's the day we were leaving, we got up to what looked to be "ho, hum just another perfect High Sierra day". It figures. We left about 8:30, but stopped briefly to take a picture of the lot we bought last year...lots of sage brush and rocks - isn't it gorgeous? ;-)

The traffic wasn't too bad, though we got behind some slow vehicles from time to time. We were home by 3:00 - happy to find that San Diego was a lot cooler than it had been right before we left!

Tigger's Mammoth Mayhem
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Text and photographs copyright © 1998, by Laura Gilbreath. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.

Laura Gilbreath,
Last updated 9/14/98