Like I mentioned in my first post of this series, in September of this year I visited all eight of California’s rural regions. I was surprised in the best ways by how much I enjoyed each place for its own merits. In visiting High Sierras, there was the expectation that we’d find stunning mountain landscapes. We did find that. We also found so much more!
I am so excited to be promoting California’s 8 rural regions for VisitCalifornia‘s #CaliforniaWild campaign with my fellow bloggers Ottsworld, Stuffed Suitcase and Border Free Travels. The ATTA is coordinating this effort and has given me freedom in how I share my experiences with you so that even though this is a paid project, I can assure you all opinions and words are my own.
Visiting High Sierras – Yosemite National Park
It’s the most obvious jewel in the crown that is this region of California. As one of America’s earliest National Parks, but not its first, Yosemite has always been on my “must visit” list. It wasn’t the focus of this project but that didn’t stop us from spending one day driving through it. To get from Gold Country to Mammoth Lakes we went into the park via the Big Oak Flat entrance. This route took us past Olmsted Point and Tuolumne Meadows. Bliss is the most fitting word to describe our brief time in Yosemite. I long to return for a stay of a week or more!
Visiting High Sierras – The People
Our group had the awesome opportunity to spend a morning with Gabe Taylor going over the course for the Kamikaze Bike Games during the practice run before official competition began. It was quite a thrilling way to better understand the games themselves and to see Mammoth Mountain below the summit. But most importantly, it was a welcome opportunity to get to know Gabe who was gracious, funny and a really good guide on the mountain. I was pretty nervous because of the terrain at times but as long as I stuck close to Gabe, it was all right. We rode the gondola a little more than half way up the mountain and then we walked the whole way down, staying mostly next to the course as we did.
We also spent the day with Michael Vanderhurst and his adorable kids. We all took turns riding bikes on the paved trails around the lakes that make up Mammoth Lakes. Afterwards we had lunch with his whole family and his wife was such an awesome person as well. They are the best Ambassadors for Mammoth and because of their enthusiasm it was easy to fall in love with the area.
During another excursion to go slab climbing near Horseshoe Lake (shown below), we got to know a group of friends and regular climbers who were so fun to be around that I think we all wanted to stay to get to know them better. Jessica, Emily, Bryan and Dana were all around genuinely awesome people who made the day fly by too fast. Oh and Emily and Dana have the most wonderful dog named Stella! I instantly fell in love with her and wanted to take her home with me!
Ranger Dean introduced himself to one of our group while we were at the summit of Mammoth Mountain. An hour later we were still hanging out with him! His stories of the mountain, the town and the geography of the area were fascinating. I also liked that he was an expat who made the USA his home many years ago, without losing his accent. People that move to the USA voluntarily always fascinate me. The best part though was how simply friendly and kind he was to us without asking for anything in return. If you meet him, make sure you tell him I said he’s the best!
Visiting High Sierras – Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain
While the Mammoth area might not get as much press as nearby Lake Tahoe & Yosemite — it’s the 3rd most visited ski resort in the USA in winter and in summer the over 200 miles of paved bike and walking paths + countless miles of mountain bike trails are just one of the draws for tourists from around the world who want that clean mountain air and backdrops that rival heaven itself. Breathe deep in spots like the ones I show below and you can feel the zen change you from the inside, out. Or maybe I just breathed so deep while there that I’m now delirious. *haha, wink*
Visiting High Sierras – The Food
I somehow managed to completely drop the ball when it came to actually documenting what we ate in the Mammoth area. But we did have a lot of really good meals! We even enjoyed a few scoops at Hugs Ice Cream which donates a portion of their proceeds to benefit local families in need.
Also of note:
– Side Door (for the best crepes and Normandy-style French cider)
– Mammoth Tavern (for out of this world Shepherd’s Pie and great cocktails)
– Toomey’s (for the tacos pictured below)
– Mammoth Brewing Company (for the best beer in Mammoth and amazing salads)
– Gomez’s (solid Mexican food and a fun atmosphere)
Visiting High Sierras – Where to Stay
Our group was put up at The Village Lodge. It was very comfortable. We all loved the fast internet. The location could not have been more ideal since it’s right in the middle of The Village at Mammoth. I also liked that there was a kitchenette in each room. This made it possible to make my own coffee and breakfast each morning rather than having to eat all three meals each day at restaurants in town. That little detail made me feel a little more at home and less like I was in the middle of a 19 day-long work trip.
Future posts in this series will cover the remaining six of California’s eight rural regions referenced in the map below. Please let me know in the comments what you enjoyed most about this region or what you’re most looking forward to learning next!
My thanks to GoPro for the gifted Hero 5 Black that I took several of these photos with. It’s a great camera for action and sports, both of which defined much of our time in the High Sierras.