Ski the steep stuff. Anyone...
Ski the steep stuff. Anyone who can ski the top on a pair of Rosi 4Ms from 1988 must have incredible leg stength. I hear those skiis give you a great hamstring workout. From left to right: brewjohnson, gmcnee, jrjohnson.
Tom's Place is located in an area known as Crowley Lake, south of Mammoth Lakes. Since VT does not have a Crowley Lake page, I'm putting the tip here. Tom's "resort" is a popular stopping place for hikers, climbers and fisherman visiting the Rock Creek and Sierra Nevada area. Tom's has an interesting history dating back to the early 1900's, which you can read about on its website. From the beginning, it has been a stopping point for travelers along the 395 corridor- first as a gas station and later as a lodge and restaurant.
The Tom's Place of today has rustic cabins and dorms for lodging, but book well in advance as they are constantly sold out during the summer. Tom's also has a restaurant and bar with an outdoor patio for fueling of the human variety before or after your daily activities. The grocery store is well stocked in case you forgot anything or need supplies for a picnic lunch
From Tom's Place, it is about 9 miles to the Mosquito Flats trailhead, the gateway to some of the best hikes and scrambles of the Sierras. We didn't stay here, but stopped in for an early morning breakfast and later on for dinner after a day in the mountains. Tom's has the best burgers in Inyo County, or so the website says. They were pretty good actually. Saturday night is the prime rib dinner special, which lasts until all the prime rib is gone, and it does sell out at this popular place.
Driving north from Bishop along 395, you'll find the sign for Tom's place about 20 minutes after leaving the town. Its about a half hour from Mammoth Lakes as well.
The obsession with Mount Abbot began before my time with the hiking crew. In June, 2007, we went on a day trip, hiked Lookout Peak and the rest of the group went on a Mount Abbot scouting mission while I stayed behind and napped. Despite the fact that we didn't quite know the route and there was no trail, we went back in July 2007 for a one day Mount Abbot climb. Granted, this was a lofty aspiration for one day (especially since I flew in from sea level the day before and had a fine combination of jet lag and altitude sickness), but we were armed with ice axes and crampons so at least we looked like we knew what we were doing.
We began at some extremely early hour, 4 a.m., 5 a.m., who remembers and hiked out to Little Lakes Valley, up and over the rocky slopes to third lake and then up to the base of Mount Abbot. We took a break and then put on our crampons and began heading up the icy base of Abbot. My journey would end here. After staggering up a few hundred feet, slipping and falling on late morning ice turned to snow, I had a revelation while lying on the ground after falling for what seemed the 100th time in 30 minutes. I didn't have to do this. There was nothing I needed to prove. It was such a freeing moment. I wished Justin luck and headed to the base of Abbot to wait with his brother who'd already decided that sane people from the suburbs do not attempt things like this. Official excuse: his crampons didn't fit right. I didn't buy it.
Unfortunately, neither Justin nor Dave, the other member of our weekend warrior quartet, did not make it to the summit. They made it up the slope from hell, and to the next part which Justin said was much steeper and almost to the ridge. But they wisely decided to turn back as it was late in the day and Mosquito Flats and, more importantly, the car, were miles away. We'd already headed back in that direction, communicating by portable hand held radios that screamed to anyone passing that we were not mountaineers but city people with lots of technology (we didn't pass to many, fortunately) that we were heading in the direction of the car, Tom's Place, saner pastures and not necessarily in that order.
So, I didn't summit Abbot. And, all joking aside, I don't regret it. There was nothing in me pushing me forward, creating that drive that's needed to push past fear and pain (and, again, not necessarily in that order) to keep going higher. Perhaps back in July, 07 I felt I'd journeyed as high as I needed to go, in mountains and in life. Then again, maybe my crampons didn't fit right either.
One of the best places in town for breakfast. That's why there's always a line! Cute little place that looks like it could have been someone's house at one point and time. Eggs and pancakes and biscuits and gravy. I LOVE breakfast and they have everything here! Try one of their omelettes or waffles!
Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort
This was one of the biggest surprises at Mammoth: the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort was up and running, and the parking lot at the ski area was completely filled. This wouldn't be surprising during winter, but this was June 24, in 80+ degrees weather. The entirety of Mammoth Mountain was still covered with snow (I'm not sure if it was natural or machine snow). Ski passes at Mammoth Mountain are also applicable at June Mountain; during summer, there is supposedly a gondola that can take you up the mountain, though it had not begun operation during our visit.
Mammoth Mountain is actually a volcano, as is much of the rest of the area. It is a part of the Long Valley Caldera, which stretches from here to Lake Crowley; it is one of the larger calderas in America and is one of the most likely to blow. During the 1980s, Mammoth was evacuated quite a few times due to tremors from the volcano; it is quite likely that someday soon there will be an eruption.