Posted on July 28, 2012
Hiking in Mammoth
My parents invited my sister’s family and us to all stay in a condo together in the Mammoth Lakes town. Simon and I were both thrilled and frightened at the prospect of bringing Gabriel (who would be just 13 months old) to this amazing place. We wondered if we would be able to get outdoors and hike, and how Gabriel would respond to the high altitude. Would he manage to nap in the baby backpack “Tatonka” while we were out on a hike? There was some uncharted territory for us as parents and it made us a bit nervous.
We decided to fly and spare ourselves on the long drive from LA. The longest road trip we had taken with Gabriel was to visit Grandma and Grandpa in North San Diego County, two hours away from LA. Gabriel loves airplanes and even though he was too little to really comprehend flying, he did seem to love the experience (or at least the props spinning).
After getting settled in the condo and somewhat acclimated, we decided to take the bus into Red’s Meadow. From there we would pick up the trail-head to Rainbow Falls, which crossed over the PCT. We were very excited to step foot on this amazing life line!
The hike to Rainbow Falls was great and Gabriel seemed to enjoy his seat high up on his daddy’s back. Along the way we crossed over the PCT and we were so thrilled! When we returned to Red’s Meadow we celebrated by having lunch at the Mule Stop Cafe at the Red’s Meadow Resort before catching our return bus.
It was bustling around the resort with many thru hikers stopping in to pick up their sent-ahead refuel packages (and probably a delicious milkshake) before continuing on their way. We even met a family who were hiking the John Muir trail: mom, dad, son 9 yrs and daughter 7 yrs. Wow, we were deeply awed and inspired by them. After lunch Gabriel found a treasure hiding in a tree stump and all was right in the world. A perfect outing!
Next day we decided to try another hike. We took the trail head near Lake Mary, to Emerald Lake. This was another short hike but proved to be more challenging. Emerald Lake is green as emeralds, immensely beautiful and apparently a favorite among the mosquitoes! We were ill prepared for mosquitoes. We had nothing but our hands to swat and slap at them. (Mental note!) Also we arrived right around Gabriel’s nap time and so he fell asleep after we arrived. It was strange being out there at nap time. Then some dark clouds floated overhead and it seemed like we were upon a thunder storm. So we made haste and took turns holding him and hiking back to parking lot, while swatting the mosquitoes away.
The next day we drove out to June Lake and didn’t hike. It was like a vacation within a vacation! Beautiful crystal clear mountain lake for freezing cold invigorating swimming and sunning. Even Gabriel went in the water. We all had a great time vacationing that day!
While Gabriel was napping back at the condo I was sent out on my own for a good time. I drove to Lake Mary, rented a canoe and paddled out to the middle of the lake. I was flooded with childhood memories and I even did a couple quick watercolors while I was bobbing around and getting blown into some logs. It was some glorious me time! Recharged, I then hurried back to my post.
Then next day we were up for another hike and decided on Arrowhead Lake because it was another lake where swimming was permitted. We didn’t actually swim there, but Gabriel tasted some rocks and learned the meaning of the words “smooth and rough”. It was a good hike. Hey… were we getting the hang of this?
Well don’t get cocky! Next hike was to Crystal Lake and this one didn’t begin too well. Gabriel was complaining and wining and grizzling so much that just within 50 feet from the trail head Simon took Takonka off his back and threw his hands in the air! Once Gabriel was out of Tatonka and checking out some big rocks and pine cones he was a new boy. Happy and curious, I guess he just wanted to be let down for some exploring. So we proceeded along the trail at a snails pace and Gabriel did some hiking of his own and LOVED it! We made it to Crystal Lake in good form and I even had a second to jot down some paint on paper.
Outside of all this amazing hiking we also had tons of fun walking around the village listening to live bands and having some down time at the Condo with my family. It was such a great trip for us. We earned some much needed confidence in ourselves hiking with Gabriel, and we were deeply inspired to do what it takes to start backpacking and onto the PCT.