Snow. On the ground, falling, waiting to fall, stirred up everywhere.
Kind of cool. And pretty enough to look at.
Til you're out in it, and the wind is blowing, and the snow is coming at you from the top, the front, the back, and the sides.
Still fun, but the next day, everyone picked up face masks and inner glove liners and stuff. Brrrrr.
Day one: Friday, 18 February: Leave early in the morning with Keith. Drive and drive and drive. 15 to 395 isn't too bad, although the sole existence for some of those towns seems to be the now-closed military bases near them. Sad, really. We stop in Bishop, grabbing bread from Schatt's, checking out one of the sporting goods stores (sales were very good), and even made a few bucks at the little tiny casino next to the sporting goods store.
Did some hiking by the little light-plane airstrip near Mammoth, visited a frozen lake, then wandered into Mammoth Lakes, where we found that Verizon evidently upgraded their network, because we had full digital coverage almost everywhere. Checked in to the cabin, then explored one of the cross-country ski lodges as well as part of Mammoth Village. Sat around the cabin after dinner, listening to Garbage and New Order until reinforcements arrived in the form of Sophia, Justin, Matt, Ben, and Alan.
Comment of the day from a neighbor: "that's a lot of food." As we unloaded an almost-completely-full Honda CR-V's worth of coolers, snowboards, skis, dried goods, bottled goods, and baked goods... hehe!
Day two: Get up. An hour late. Whoops.
That turns out to be okay. Ben, Matt, and Alan leave early to rent gear and hit the slopes, while the rest of us make lunch and wait for the third group of people to arrive. Turns out Alex, Hamilton, and Loc get lost on the way to the cabin, so they're a bit later than planned. We manage to make it over to the gondola about an hour (or two?) later than planned and proceed to explore Mammoth. I skip my planned lesson, because it's too late to make the morning one...
Lunch turns out to be interesting. We stash it in a locker at Canyon Lodge, then take three lifts and three runs over to the Main Lodge to hit the runs over there as well as on the back side of the mountain. The plan to head back to Canyon Lodge, grab Matt and the lunches, and have lunch at the Main Lodge's Thunder Inn... proves... uhh... difficult. We're having a good time skiing and snowboarding when we find that half of the backside lifts are closed due to bad weather. Keith's doing fairly well on his board, while Alex and Hamilton succeed fairly well at remembering how to snowboard. Lunch becomes an hour late and still isn't there, but eventually Sophia, Justin, and Matt show up about the same time Alan does. We wolf down lunch, then-- instead of giving the weary brings-of-lunch a break-- hit the slopes again. It's getting late, we can't waste daylight!
Fun stuff. Bit disorganized, but fun. And where's Ben? Heck, where are my friends we were going to try to meet?
Back at the cabin, we find Ben, who finished an hour before we did. Spaghetti, Infernal Affair on DVD, and Taboo fill the night. Good times, good times, although aside from the Yukon Jack, the alcohol is untouched.
Things get a little fuzzy beyond that... I know both Loc and Hamilton passed out at various points...
Day three: We're worried. It's snowed all night, and the question of Mammoth being open is a serious one. Again, a few take off before the main group does, plus Alex and Hamilton won't get out of bed, so we leave 'em. Turns out most of Mammoth is open, enough for it to be worth our while. Backside conditions and upper-ridgeline conditions are closed due to avalanche risk-- we can hear the artillery going off all morning-- but we take the shuttle over and start from the Main Lodge this time around. We intend to split up, but the groups end up sticking (loosely) together, up and down the backside, then trekking allllllll the way across the mountain to the other end, Eagle Lodge. We're smart enough to keep lunch nearby, too. =)
I've been on the phone periodically all weekend, looking for Helma, Eileen, and my other friends who are there. No luck. We keep skiing and boarding. Screw it, we're having fun! The majority of us end up at the top of Quicksilver at the end of the day, where we proceed to have a snowball fight at 10,000 feet. Cool, huh? (yeah, we're a bunch of dorks! it was worth it!)
As we head down, ski patrol is busy encouraging some of us along. Clearly, we're among the last to leave the mountain. *grins* By the time we get down to Canyon Lodge, Alan's already returned his gear and is heading back to the cabin. The radio goes off repeatedly as we locate the rest of our group. "Please hold, your call is important to us and will be answered in the order it was received." *laughter erupts* Returning to the cabin, we inspire some little kids by having another snowball fight (3rd of the trip). You know you're in trouble when the snowballs start flying, and hey, it's time to be irresponsible!
Back at the cabin, it's chicken, Pasta Roni, stuffing, Zartan's dirty rice, and other random stuff for dinner. Clearly, food needs a little work on this trip. (breakfast was bacon and pancakes, though, no complaints there!) Interesting pre- and post- dinner conversation, too. Turns out Ben, Hamilton, and Alan have all passed the California bar (and hence are/were lawyers), Keith and Loc know their way around guns, and we're watching the NCAA...
After dinner, we break for a bit. People vanish for short and long walks outside, attempts to build snowmen, etc.
The Texas Hold'em game is short and vicious. Loc, Brian, and Justin get obnoxious... within an hour, Justin's cleaned up the rest of the game, while everyone else (including Loc and Brian) are watching Terminal.
Day four: Monday, 21 February: Pack up, dig the cars out, leave. Loc, Hamilton, and Alex squeeze in an extra day of snowboarding, but the rest of us aren't allowed to show up as zombies at work the next day, so we head home, stopping at the Schatt's in Mammoth and the later in Bishop for lunch. End up helping people remove chains about 2 miles out of Mammoth Village; we've got a lot of practice with chains now! We see tons of snow-- down to about 6500', in some places lower.
Sophia passes us, we pass Sophia, rinse and repeat. Eventually we split at the 395/14 junction, leaving behind the snow-capped mountains and very-low clouds for the Mojave Desert. Back down to Riverside, we find part of 15 is flooded just enough to snarl traffic, so we take the CR-V off-road for a while to bypass that.
What's the only regret? That we couldn't get in a little more skiing/boarding on Monday. Reality dictated otherwise, but it was soooo beautiful up there when you ignored all the snow blowing in your face...
With the tons of snow, maybe we can sneak in another ski trip this season, even though it's already Mid-March as of this writing...