The Mottle's Go West Again 2009 travel blog


Not this time of year

Re-stocking with supplies











Our first hike -5 miles orund trip








Juneau smells it but no eye contact


A "Marmot"


Emerald Lake

A well needed break










Juneau spots something!!

Maybe he's admiring the view

Above the tree line

We find some snow

They don't even feel the freezing stream water



Another swim

No more deserts for me!!!


Twin Lakes

Dinner at the RV

Bert gets a brushing







remains of an auto




















Rainbow Falls








There's the rainbow!





















Bob H., if they can have these at Mammouth Mtn. Village, why...




Heading for Lake Tahoe!

Hi Everyone:

Well we’ve been in the desert since we left Mesa Verde National Park on July 19th and although the air is dry and the scenery spectacular, it feels good to be back in cooler whether. We are now at Mammoth Lakes near Mammouth Mountain Ski Resort and wish we had Kolleen B. with us as a guide. MJ drove ahead the last 20 miles or so and found us a great campsite in Coldwater National Forest Campground. In a complex of 15 campgrounds and over 80 sites at Coldwater alone, we lucked out and got one of the best. Surrounded by tall pines and nestled next to a crystal clear mountain stream, we elected to stay three nights (one additional from our original plans). We actually could have stayed here three weeks as there is so much to do. There are hiking and mountain biking trails everywhere. There is the ski village, two golf courses, the ski resort and a special added feature – The Devil’s Postpile National Monument.

On our first day we got right to it and hiked about 2.5 miles from our campsite past Emerald Lake up into the high country above the timberline. Every chance they could along the way, the boys got a refreshing dip in a stream, lake or waterfall that was less than 2 miles from its source of melting snow. It seemed as if they didn’t even notice the cold. We kept them on long leashes as bear warnings were everywhere. Juneau almost came nose to nose with a furry Marmot but the little guy was too fast for him. Hiking through densly shaded forests, over green meadows, past lakes and streams for three hours, we finally reached our -a small snow field. We would have gone higher but rockslides crossed our path and the way was not easy for the dogs. Back at the motorhome and during our evening walk, we did a short hike up to the Mammouth Consolidated Mine that produced gold from 1928 to 1931. Most of the structures used by the miners as well as one shaft opening were still in relatively good condition.

Our second day proved even more adventurous. We headed for Mammoth Mountain Resort where we boarded a bus for a harrowing 3/4 hour ride down steep roads into Red’s Meadow behind Mammouth Mountain. This bus trip is the only way to see the valley and the Park. Unfortunately for the boys, they had to wear muzzles as the transport company demanded it of all pets while on the bus. They got used to it quickly and before any of us knew it we were on the valley floor. A 1.5 mile hike through a recent forest fire and avalanche zone and we were at Rainbow Falls. The middle fork of the San Joaquin River gains depth and speed from snow melt as it heads cross the valley. At one point, it plunges 101 feet over a cliff of volcanic rock. Glaciers of past centuries cut and widened this canyon but they did not form the falls. Instead, two layers of rock that make up this particular gorge are of different densities. The lower softer layer wore away much quicker than the harder top portion forming a cliff. Water passing over created the falls and collapsing sections of the rock form the rapids below. After an hour visit at the base of the falls, devouring our packed lunch and a swim by the boys, of course, we hiked three miles back along the river to one of the most unusual rock formations we have even seen. About 100,000 years ago, Basalt Lava erupted throughout the region in a series of massive earthquakes. In one spot as the lava rose it quickly cooled, contracted and cracked forming hardened columns. These symmetrical vertical and hexagonal columns formed because this particular eruption occurred under ideal circumstances. Passing glaciers uncovered this composition sometime between 20,000 to 12,000 years ago. These sixty foot high blocks of super hardened lava rest beside each other like hundreds of perfectly shaped, three to seven sided objects that look like a "pile of posts” leaning against each other. If you looked at them from the top, you would see a cross cut view of the vertical columns that resemble floor tiles. You can easily see the parallel groves cut in them by ancient rock-studded glacial ice. Devil’s Postpile National Monument was once a part of neighboring Yosemite National Park but it now has a place of its own in over 747 acres teeming with bear, elk, wolves and coyotes. Also crossing this valley is the Pacific Crest Trail which goes from Mexico to Canada along the spine of the Rocky Mountains. We hiked only about five miles of it but at least the boys had four more chances to sample the clear mountain waters of the San Joaquin. A day well spent we headed for one of seven bus stops in the park for our journey back up to Mammoth Lodge.

We made a quick stop in Mammouth Village for a couple of Spaaten beers, chicken wings and some rest before heading back to the campground. As I stated earlier, we could easily spend three weeks here but there are “many other places for us all to see”. Next stop – Lake Tahoe. Stay tuned!

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