Mono County and Mammoth Lakes Nourish the Soul by Barbara L. Steinberg
The vista defies imagination as you round Conway Summit and gaze down the length of the Long Valley. The caldera is framed on the west by the Glass Mountain Range and the Sierra Nevada to the east. Ancient Mono Lake – sapphire gem – glitters up and reflects billowy clouds that often adorn an azure sky. Her alien tufas – sentinels to the past. Any sane person should be rocked at their very core.
The spine of California, this view is like no other. No pretense here. Carved and uplifted, the granite mountains shoot from the ground. None of those pesky forests to block your viewshed. Impressive heights include some rabidly sought after “fourteeners,” but plentiful 10,000- to 13,000-foot peaks take your breath away and challenge seasoned climbers. From sunrise to sunset and season to season, the colors and shadows are an ever-changing portrait where Ansel Adams’ “range of light” is clearly defined.
At the bottom of the summit, Highway 395 stretches before you with promises of sanctuary from traffic and crowds. There are few manmade roadside distractions. Just miles and miles of fluctuating topography from pine forests to wetland pastures! Defining features include the Mono Craters and views of the Minarets – the backside of Yosemite. After the final descent of Deadman Summit’s 8,047 feet, a few miles to the south, Obsidian Dome a mile-long, 300-foot-high mound of glass pays homage to the region’s volcanic spirit. Above it all, Mammoth Mountain emerges.
Exit the open spaces for the wilds of Mammoth Lakes. Huge. Immense. Epic. Vast. California’s biggest mountain for winter sports – all of the adjectives apply. Mammoth also has colossal year-round recreation delights from mountain biking and hiking to canoeing and kayaking and world-renown fly-fishing. Not enough? Rock jocks around the world drool over the climbing and bouldering opportunities.
The Westin Monache Resort, perched on a hill above the town, is an ideal location to enjoy all of Mammoth’s pastimes. Ski-in or ski-out. Shop. Dine. Relax poolside. Shuttles whisk guests and their bikes up to the Mammoth Gondola and the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park. Cowabunga dude – this is some downhill run. For those seeking less treacherous amusements, scenic gondola rides to the top of Mammoth Mountain will still leave you breathless. Did we mention the premier golf options, horseback riding, and day trips to Yosemite National Park? Too much fun and not enough time. You will visit again and again. Each time a new discovery.
Back on the open road, a pinch to make sure this wasn’t a dream. The Eastern Sierra. The Long Valley. Mammoth Lakes. Keep dreaming.
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