Mammoth Lakes Area

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Hot Springs at Hot Creek

The Fourth of July week would be spent around the Mammoth Lakes area of California. Diana’s sister and her family would join us along with my in-laws as well. We hiked, fished, enjoyed s’mores, watched fire works, and more.

Wednesday July 3

The truck was packed the night before. Clothes were sprayed with Sawyer’s Permethrin to help keep bugs to a minimum. We were all set as we woke up to enjoy breakfast, pack the last few things and made our way across the Sierra Nevada.

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Diana preparing our clothing the day before our departure.

The drive was going to be a long one. We were going to cross over Tioga Pass on Highway 120. For us this meant going up Highway 41 into Yosemite National Park and then connected to Highway 120 eastbound. The total drive time was going to be 6 hours. As we drove through Yosemite Diana was napping and I was trying to make sure Jaden kept looking forward. He gets car sick and I didn’t want to have another incident like I did a couple years back. We were doing okay and driving slow. Our only stop was in Toulomne Meadows. The visitor center was still closed, but you can use the parking area just east of it. It was hear Jaden was no longer feeling good. We powered through “snack time” and was not sure if he was weak from being hungry or if he got car sick. About 20 minutes later we discovered the answer; car sickness.

Puzzled as to how it happened we would soon learn that he was looking down while playing occasionally with his stuffed cat Meowth. Needless to say he felt better and was not hungry. Diana and I ate some snack food and soon were back in the truck heading down to Highway 395. Our destination for the day was a placed called McGee Creek RV and Campground, just a 10 minute drive from Mammoth Lakes.

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At McGee Creek RV and Campground

Arriving at our destination we checked in. The host/owner was very nice. She had us escorted to our sight so we would not get lost. Sites 45 and 46 were ours right by McGee Creek. They were prefect sites and quiet. Well at least if you don’t mind the rushing water. Due to all the unexpected snow in May it created a delayed runoff. Thus we were not going to go fishing or play in the creek. Anyway, Jaden was still feeling off and we tried giving him some bread. That didn’t work 30 minutes later so we had him rest for some time. The rest of the family joined in about 5 minutes from when we first drove up into our site. Jaden was happy to see his cousins again, but remember he still was not himself. It took till around dinner time for him to snap out of it. This was good news as he really needed the energy to keep up with his cousins.

Dinner was awesome. Glenda was our chef for the week and the first meal was Frito Bowls. Everyone loved them. Jaden had a fully belly’s worth of food. I had 3 servings myself since I had skipped lunch. Lemonade and tea were the drinks. Soon cookies followed. The remainder of the night was spent socializing, playing UNO, and getting accustomed to the higher elevation.

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Thursday July 4

The first night of sleep was an adjustment for me. Diana too. We both were in the back of the truck on our new mattress while Jaden was with 3 cousins and Aunt Ginger in the tent by the river. I think that was a great idea in terms of natural “white noise.” The kids were not going to hear anything. As I was one of the first people to get up, I walked around and checked on people in the tent. They were all sleeping still. Diana was going back to sleep in the truck, so I made my way down to the camper.

Two people were awake and looking for food. I walked on in and soon was joined by John. He got the hot water ready for coffee while a breakfast appetizer was muffins. When Glenda was up, mostly everyone else was too so a full and filling breakfast of eggs, bacon, and sausage was served. We were going to definitely be energized for our morning hike around the Mammoth Lakes area.

Once we were all ready to go, we drove into Mammoth and stopped by the Forest Service’s Visitor Center. There we met a gentlemen, in full character, outside with a sign stating to ask him a question. A few of us grabbed some free information and join the rest of our group to hear what the man had to say. We learned why the placed was called Mammoth, how big the town was in the mining days, and so forth. It was very interesting but the younger ones were done and ready to move on.

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Listening in on the story of Mammoth Lakes.

The next stop was at a fishing store to grab some flies and worms. Our destination was up at Twin Lakes. From there we would hike around and fish. Thankfully as we left the shop they were starting to close part of the main drive down for the 4th of July parade. We spent our time eating a snack at the lake and starting our hiking adventure.

Snack was over and it was time to explore! We went west across the bridge and followed a path that went south along the western side of the lake. It an easy to find trail for a short stretch. The trail disappeared and we were soon in a rather large rock slide.

Fishing off the rock slide.

The rock slide did make things slow going. It also caused some confusion as to where the trail might be. However, the rocks did clear out the brush allowing for some fishing time. JJ, Ginger, and John stayed back to fish while the rest of us carefully made our way through the rock slide. Thankfully we were not far from where the trail resurfaced and the rock slide ended.

Back on the trail and waiting for others.

Soon everyone caught back up with us and we continued down the trail. The boys ended up catching a lizard, which was a highlight of the late morning. After a photo of their prized capture, it was time for a release and to continue further down the trail.

Davant with the lizard in hand.

We ended up in a campground that apparently was still closed. There was another small family who hiked in from the other side and that was it. It was just us and, I admit, it was nice that way. Some snow patches lingered and the boys didn’t waste time. Soon a small snowman was made and contributed to the water level of the lake.

We made our way through the campground and eventually to a bridge that crossed back over Twin Lake. We saw Twin Lake Falls while we waited for everyone to catch up. Soon we were back on the eastern side and hiking back to the truck. People were everywhere again but sticking to the nice walking trail most were going in another direction.

Diana and Jaden walking back to the truck.

Everyone was hungry by the time we were back at the truck. This meant we were to drive back through Mammoth and down to our camping spot. However, our vehicle did not go that way. We decided to head up to the ski area to grab our bus tickets for tomorrow’s ride into Devil’s Post Pile National Monument. By the time we figured out the parking and tickets, we were about an hour later and hungry!

Ski area still open!

Now back at camp, it was time for resting. The kids either played outside or teamed up on Minecraft a bit. This gave us adults some down time too. Soon Diana and I were scoping out spots for the 4th of July firework show. We did detour up McGee Creek and saw a beautiful view of the Eastern Sierra Nevada. No complaints there, but it was not going to solve the issue for a fireworks viewing spot.

After about an hour of testing out places, going back to camp to discuss, and then driving out once more, we settled on the old frontage road that paralleled Highway 395. We would just have to wait till later on that day to see if others had our idea. For now it was time to take it easy, but that would not last long as the boys were all outside.

John was splitting wood and the boys wanted to learn. I showed Davant how to break up the larger pieces with the splitter John brought with him. Teaching him some safety tips and some swings later Davant was getting the hang of it. The younger boys were taught how to use the hatchet. Even Jaden wanted in on the hatchet action and so John and I guided/watched the whole operation. Needless to say they all did a great job and we would be ready for s’mores when the time came.

Dinner was soon made and our bellies were full. Now it was time to get some jackets and head out to see the fireworks. Yes, we were not the only ones with the idea to use the frontage road. In fact there were a lot of people but we did a good spot to watch. Otherwise to get up close and personal with the show as $25 a car. This saved us $50 and we still enjoyed it. This would conclude the second day.

Friday July 5