Being from the East Coast, I never thought I’d be able to say, “I’m going skiing for 4th of July weekend.” And not only that, I never imagined it was possible to ski and mountain bike in the same day, nonetheless on the same day in July!
I moved to California from Boston 8 weeks ago. I packed my car with all of my belongings, including my poles, boots, and helmet, and had my skis shipped due to the absence of a ski rack on my silver Honda Accord. When I arrived in Los Angeles at the end of May, I sadly stored my ski gear in a friend’s garage, not expecting to use it again until the start of the new ski season in November. But last Friday, when a fellow The Ski Channel co-worker mentioned going up to Mammoth to film the last ski weekend of the season, I was thrilled to rip apart the FedEx box that had been housing my skis.
After six hours, a decent amount of traffic for a holiday weekend, and one very unnerving yet successful encounter with the Mammoth Lakes police, we arrived at the Mammoth Mountain Inn exhausted and ready to collapse.
Waking up on July 3rd to see a snow-covered mountain out my window was nothing short of astounding. I immediately strapped on my gear, stashed a Sony camera in my pocket, and headed up the gondola for my first official summer ski experience. I can undoubtedly say that I have never been skiing without a jacket and gloves before, and it didn’t even phase me as I barreled down the mountain with the warm air filling my lungs.
I was amazed to see the mountain so packed and it was unreal witnessing women in their bikinis and men shirtless as they descended the slopes. The energy and atmosphere was exhilarating. Everyone was in such good spirits and simply ecstatic to be skiing so late into the season, summer in fact, and the mood was contagious. A BBQ was set up outside McCoy Station where a DJ streamed the latest hits and people danced as they made their way back in line for another run down the exquisite mountain.
Not only were the ample conditions satisfying for ski junkies, they also lured mountain bikers with the opportunity to descend from the 11,053 foot summit to achieve their adrenaline rush. One thrill seeker who I rode the chairlift with informed me that he had been skiing, mountain biking, fishing and golfing, all since 7:00 that morning. Now if that isn’t an epic summer day, I don’t know what is.
After exhausting every minute on the mountain, I figured what better way to alleviate the pain in my sore legs but to hop on a mountain bike. Going from skiing straight to biking within the course of an hour is a feat I am proud to say I have now accomplished. The other bikers on the trail were amazing to watch, exhibiting their incredible skills and passion for the sport, and I tried my best to keep with the pace of the people around me.
To top off our adventure-filled day we headed into Mammoth Village where we filmed the 4th of July Reggae Festival and pre-holiday fireworks. Families gathered outside, singing and dancing to the music and munching on candy apples as they waited for the fireworks display at sundown. We also had an opportunity to get behind-the-scenes with two of the village’s popular restaurants, Hyde Lounge and Gomez’s.
The luxurious ambience of Hyde caters to the Après-ski and snowboard crowd. Their chef took us back into the kitchen and baked us one of their desserts that can only be described as blissful. As the night wore on, Hyde turned into a nightclub with people packed from door to door, ordering bottle service and rocking out to the hottest DJ’s while using the dinner tables as dance platforms. We even saw pro skier Chris Benchetler with his friends, enjoying the entertainment that Hyde has to offer.
At the authentic Mexican restaurant and cantina Gomez’s, we had the pleasure of having the most delectable house margaritas made from a traditional homemade family recipe. The owner explained that Gomez’s has over 150 tequilas and that they pride themselves on their relaxed environment and great food in the spirit of Mexico.
The morning of July 4th we went to the annual Independence Day parade put on by the Mammoth Chamber of Commerce. This year’s theme was The Wild Wild West and we captured some fabulous footage of the floats as they passed through the center of town, throwing candy to the eager children watching from the sidewalk. We even caught a glimpse of Mammoth Mountain CEO Rusty Gregory, as he waved to the cheering crowd as he cruised by on the 25th Anniversary Kamikaze float.
All in all it was a magnificent weekend. I was fortunate enough to experience an end of winter/beginning of summer kick-off holiday weekend at the leading 4-season mountain resort in California. Now I just have to patiently wait until November rolls around for another chance to ski at the incredible Mammoth Mountain Resort. Until then I guess I’ll have to live vicariously through “Destination Mammoth” airing this month on The Ski Channel.