Our last snowfall of note in Mammoth was on November 20, 2011. I’ve got accustomed to waking up to a bluebird day, the only real variable being how cold or warm it is. I’ve resigned myself to the lack of natural snow. I know where the rocks are likely to be on the ski runs and avoid them, soon I will start giving some of them names as they are a regular feature on the slopes. But all is not lost. The lack of snow has provided opportunities to combine a skiing trip with other pursuits not normally available in Mammoth at this time of year. Here are 5 things you can do in Mammoth look on the bright side and make the most of your trip.
1. Ice Skate! This is one of the best ice skating seasons in a long long time. The area is abound with mountain lakes frozen over offering the perfect natural skating rink. In particular Lake Tenaya on the Tioga Highway is a popular spot. You can now hire skates from Quicksliver in the Village.
2. Visit a Ghost Town. Bodie, one of the best preserved ghost towns in California if not America, is usually off limits this time of year due to snow. An hour drive from Mammoth it will be errily quiet at the moment due to lack of the summer crowds. Take a warm jacket as the wind is often blowing through this desolate spot and spare a thought for those that had to endure winter here. It would pay to call the park before venturing out there.
3. Take soak in a natural hot spring. Usually in winter only the hardy venture out to the hot springs, often using cross country skis or snow shoes. No snow this winter means that all the local hot tubs are still easily accessible. They make the perfect foil for the days adventures.
4. Drive over Tioga pass. I could only find records going back to 1980 but the road has NEVER been open this late in that time. The Yosemite Valley is about 2.5 hours drive from Mammoth so certainly achievable as a day trip. On the way you could hike up one of the easily accessible granite domes. I was lucky enough to get up there for a picnic on Christmas Day.
5. Go for a hike. Many of the lower hiking trails are largely free of snow at present. This makes a nice change from the previous two winters where 6 feet of snow covered the ground everywhere. Today I went to check out the Inyo Craters. A fun and easy walk, the road in requires 4WD at the moment although you can walk that section too. Other places to check out are Convict Lake and the Lakes Basin. There is the odd patch of slippery ice so take care.
If these activities don’t keep you busy then you could throw a bike in with your skis and go riding, there’s even some off road trail at Rock Creek. Lastly I bet the golf in Bishop is going off!
So I’ve given up fretting about the lack of snow. I’m starting to embrace this winter for what it is and discovering there is a lot on offer if you are willing to look outside of the box. And hey you can still ski too!