You never know what the weather will be like. Pack light and heavy jackets for skiing. I also pack several types of gloves - mittens and glove liners. One day, sunglasses were fine. The next windy day, ski goggles were a necessity. I also needed my alligator (neck warmer) that I can pull up to cover my mouth and nose but a face mask would have probably worked out better. Ski hats a must!
Little Lakes Valley
Little Lakes Valley is one of the prettiest and most accessible spots in the Sierras. A series of trails lead to the nearby lakes and, beyond the maintained trails are some challenging peak scrambles. The area does not receive anywhere near the amount of traffic as the immensely popular Yosemite, which is another point in its favor. I've listed some of the lakes and trails in other tips and travelogues on this page.
so so Pizza
The restaurant is a decent size alittle dark, theres pool table and some video games for the kids. We came in here to see the UCLA game and they had a few TV's.
The pizza was so so. The service sucked. I found the guy taking our order, behind the register pretty rude. They are definately not big on customer service. We got two medium pizzas for about 24dollars. Alittle more than what you want to spend on pizza.
Tom's Place - Hike to Gem Lake and Morgan Pass
Tom's Place is the actual name of a town about 20 minute drive south on 395 from Mammoth Lakes. Drive out about 10 miles on Rock Creek Rd to Mosquito Flat Campgrounds. It's a paved road the whole way, and the campground is the end of the road, so you can't miss it. Starting at 10,300 feet elevation, it's a beautiful hike past numerous small lakes until you get to Gem Lake. About 3.5 miles hike out. Gem Lake is about 10,900 feet elevation. You'll pass Heart Lake, Box Lake, Long Lake, Chickenfoot Lake (I don't name these, just report) until you finally get to Gem Lake. Be aware that the spur off to Gem Lake isn't marked with a sign, but with a stack of rocks and a stick of wood (see picture below).
If you're up to it, it's only an additional .3 mile hike up to Morgan Pass, but the pass is over 11,100 feet elevation. But if you stopped for lunch at Gem Lake, it's easy to slowly go up to Morgan Pass then turn around and head back to the trailhead. Total hike with Morgan Pass is about 8 miles r/t. Doesn't sound like much, but at over 9,000 feet the whole way, you will be tired at the end.
Hot Creek Geothermal Area
Although Tom Harrison Maps marks the road to Hot Creek Geothermal Area as a 4WD road, it is actually easily accessible to most vehicles.
Hot Creek Geothermal Area is one of the most amazing examples of the region's turbulent volcanic history. The entire area, from Mammoth Mountain to Crowley Lake, forms the 20 mile long and 10 mile wide Long Valley caldera. It was created about 750,000 years ago with the eruption of a giant volcano/magma chamber 2,500 times larger than the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 that spread a thick layer of ash over all of the western US. This catastrophic eruption emptied the magma chamber and caused it to collapse on itself, forming a depression that today is the Long Valley caldera. Hot Creek is a reminder of that time period; water from the Sierra Nevada seeps down into the ground, where it is heated by the currently rising magma, and boils back up to the surface at Hot Creek.
From the parking area, you can walk down the gorge to view a fascinating variety of mud pots, hot springs/pools, and fumaroles. At times, temporary geysers have even been known to shoot up here. Although swimming and soaking in the creek was once popular here, it was prohibited starting June 2006 by the Forest Service due to increased unstableness in the area.