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The Hypnotic Energy of the Eastern Sierras

Mammoth Mountain and the Surrounding Areas Offer Something for Everyone

Photo by Richard Bilow, view from the top of Mammoth

With the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games just one year away, athletes like Shaun White, Greg Bretz, and Chloe Kim have been taking advantage of the epic conditions and deep fresh powder on Mammoth Mountain this season.

This winter, Los Angeles received much needed rain, and it’s been a great year for winter sports enthusiasts to head to Mammoth Mountain. With over 500 inches of snow, there is still a lot of time to head up to the mountain and have some fun. I find that any chance I have to get away from my busy life in Los Angeles allows me to come back fully recharged and refreshed, ready to jump right back into my active schedule.

Photo by Kathy Leonardo, Mammoth gondola heading up to the mountain

Mammoth Mountain is a serious mountain. As its name suggests, it’s big. For expert skiers and snowboarders, this vast terrain offers all the challenges an athlete could ask for. Although you will not find me on those expert runs, I travel with several athletic companions constantly looking for their next adrenaline rush…and Mammoth never seems to disappoint.

Dave McCoy is the visionary ski industry pioneer responsible for the successful year-round destination. He maintained control over the mountain operations for most of his life but eventually made a deal which resulted in upscale improvements for both the mountain and the town. High speed chair lifts, a central village filled with shops and restaurants, and newly-built luxury properties have all added to making Mammoth a popular go-to destination. The new restaurants and bars are wonderful, but I still can’t resist stopping to eat at an old favorite restaurant called Burgers, as we pass through town after a long day on the mountain.

Cross country skiing is another popular activity and is much more my speed. The slow steady process allows me to step into a meditative state away from the day to day stresses of my deadline-oriented career. Being surrounded by the beauty of the Eastern Sierras grounds me on an even deeper level.

Photo by Richard Bilow, Mono Lake

Mammoth Mountain is situated in the Eastern Sierras which also includes picturesque destinations in the Owens Valley. Between Mammoth and Lone Pine, you will find Devil’s Postpile, Mono Lake, the Bristlecone Pines, and the Alabama Hills, just to name a few of the beautiful destinations you may want to visit.

Down the hill from Mammoth is a beautiful spot called Five Bridges, just outside of Bishop. It’s a great place to walk or hike around the Owens river. It offers a panoramic view of the river surrounded by the White Mountains to the east and the Sierras to the west. This is a great spot for any photographer or lover of nature.

Photo by Richard Bilow, another great spot near Bishop

There are also numerous lakes that can be appreciated from the side of the road or from long hikes into the back country. The colors and textures of the Owens Valley are a sight to see during and just after sunrise, when everything glows in the magic hour. Down by the Owen’s River, you can feel the hypnotic energy of the earth — if you are dressed for the weather and able to stand still listening to the silence all around you. Standing by the river, all bundled up and looking at the snow covered mountains after a super cold storm covered the valley floor with snow, was a heavenly experience for me.

Photo by Richard Bilow, Palisades Glacier, shot from the Owens River

Further south on the 395, Big Pine is a sleepy town which has become a haven for me. While there, I cannot resist partaking in a meal at Coppertop BBQ as I appreciate the view of Palisades Glacier just across the highway.

This Big Pine foodie sensation has made quite a name for itself. One would think it was a swanky LA restaurant considering the number of people standing in line. Coppertop BBQ is owned by father/son team Hank and Matthew Otten and is definitely worth the wait. The sauce alone was outstanding — a smoky sweet yet savory blend — that clung to the tender meat as it melted in my mouth. My travel companion and I ordered the Big Pine sampler platter (Tri-Tip, two Pork Ribs and a quarter chicken) which was delicious and more than enough for both of us.

Photo courtesy of Coppertop BBQ

If you are an athlete, a photographer, or just need a break, take some time out to re-fuel your life and enjoy the breathtaking snow-topped mountains of the Eastern Sierras.

For additional info about this area, visit these websites: http://www.visitmammoth.com/ https://www.mammothmountain.com/

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