Thursday, April 14, 2016

Mammoth Lakes - Convict Lake and Inyo National Forest

At the hot springs, we had been camping in the parking area near the springs, and driving into town or where ever each day.  This is the parking area by the Hilltop spring, the mountains in the background are up beyond the town, directly behind the camper is Mammoth mountain.

   After a few straight days of soaking in the hot springs morning and evening, and dragging the house around all day, we looked for a place to camp where we could leave the trailer and bike or drive into town.

   On the way toward town, sort of spur of the moment I turned up the road to Convict Lake, south of Mammoth.  (no I stayed out of the gore, and made a nice safe turn).   The lake was formed by a glacier, with mountains on three sides, and the glacial moraine at the bottom.  The name comes from a group of convicts who escaped and met their end here, and several mountains are named for the several posse members who were killed.  The campground is closed still for the winter, but we availed ourselves of the dump which was still accessible.

    There is a nice level 3 mile hike around the lake.  We walked all the way around, but the kids went way up a snow covered to slope for a snowball fight.  We could hear them from across the lake.

this the snowball fight route, about 300 feet up we estimate.
After hiking and playing at the lake, we drove up through Mammoth and out Sawmill Cutoff road.  There are nice forest service campgrounds right in town, but they are still closed for the winter.  The private rv resort in town is pricey and mostly just a parking lot.  So further out of town, 3-4 miles, there is forest service land where dispersed camping is available, just stay on an existing roads and pulloff spots.

After we got set up, I was getting ready for a campfire outside, and Elliot & Annie were making some sort of baked goods inside (for heat from the oven...), and they heard on the radio that it was free cone day!   So we went back into town for ice cream.  One day a year they have free cones with a donation for a local organization, in this case the search and rescue volunteers.

 And after we came home, Alice's snowgirl had a campfire.  She (the snowgirl) watched from afar, until after we were done with marshmallows.  Then she (the snowgirl) jumped on the fire to help put it out.

The next couple days, we rode our bikes down to town in the morning, and then took a drive in the afternoon.

 Yesterday in the afternoon, we drove to the Village area, an outdoor shopping mall area at the base of the ski areas.  There's a gondola that goes part way up to other lodges and lifts, and we took that up just for sightseeing.  (and it's free..)  The real views are much better than a phone camera shows, I wouldn't put in this picture, but see that Ford truck in the picture?   That's foreshadowing...

So on the way back we wanted to check out Earthquake Fault.  Sometime in the last millennium, the earth split open here and it's still accessible.   The granite crack is about 10 feet wide and goes way down.  Snow and ice at the bottom usually last through the summers, and early settlers used it for food storage.

The short 1/4 mile road to it is paved, but not plowed and there were some snowdrifts across in places, each bigger than the last.  Ok that one was ok, seems to be pretty firm packed.  Keep momentum and the tires stay mostly on top and we sail over.  Oooh, this one looks big, I think we can, I think we can....   Ooop, here we are, slowed down and wheels dropped into it, and the bottom of the truck is sitting up on the drift.

Better start digging...  Oooh, seems the shovel is back at the campfire.....  Remember that lesson about the tire plugs in the truck?   Make that shovel, tire plugs, tire pump, and tow strap,  all stored in the truck.

So we dug for a couple minutes with a tiny garden trowel (from Crater of Diamonds) and a board,  and I realized this is not going to work.  I'd better take my tow strap back out to the road and beg a 4x4 truck for help.  There's plenty of traffic going to & from the ski areas.

Kind of jingle the towstrap in the air and wave your hand.  The first truck I waved at turned around and came to help.  A new Ford....

There was clear blacktop behind our truck, and pulling it out was no problem.  Getting us both back out was another issue.  The other guy started getting stuck in the next drift out, and ended up slid off to the side of the road in the drift.  And backing up he could do, but only downhill toward a couple trees.   So then we pulled him back out and up onto the road.  And then we both were able to make it back out.

Good clean fun.   Sorry no pictures, too much fun for pictures....

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