Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas Skiing in Mammoth

Christmas morning dawned bright, clear and cold as Mary and I headed to the lifts for a fine day of skiing. A quick hitting storm blessed the slopes with about 4" low to perhaps 8" higher up. Where the snow had blown in and settled the skiing was fantastic.

Here's the virgin corduroy before the lifts began to load.

After a few great runs on Chairs 2 & 3, we headed to the top via the Gondola. While we were there they recorded a temperature of 1.9F and winds averaging 55mph gusting to 70mph - for a wind chill somewhere around -30F!!!

We had one fine run, but I ended up with a little frost nip on my cheek - so we took up couple more runs lower down and called it a day.

Friday morning was again very cold and perfectly clear as I toured up into Mammoth Lakes basin above Sky Meadows. It was one of those days when the scenery is so bright and vivid and the snow is so cold and soft that there is a certain electricity in the air!

Oh the views!

The broad drainages in this area are filled in pretty well and provide fun low angle skiing.

Even the sunny slopes were staying cold and light - a rarity in the Sierra.

Saturday I headed back up my skin track to the saddle I reached the day before and took one run down to the Duck Pass trail, then skinned back up to a small knob above Sky Meadow.

The skiing was great in there!

The skiing in the forest lower down was fantastic too.

It's still pretty thin. The skis took a little damage after an ill advised turn in some boulders. The bowls and couloirs in this area are probably a couple of feet of snow shy of being ready, but these tours were mighty fine nonetheless.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Mammoth Lakes Basin Skiing

At last the ski season has begun! After a bout with a respiratory infection which cut my 'cross season short I was itching to get up into the mountains.

Saturday brought light snow, cool temps, and strong winds in exposed areas. Headed up above McCloud Lake and found just enough coverage for some fun skiing. There was a couple of inches of fresh snow over a dense, wet base.

It took a couple of runs to remember how to work them skis!

Love the glades!

Sunday I hooked up with Steve & Nick and skied up above TJ Lake.

Fortunately the strongest winds subsided before we reached treeline.

Up high the snow was variably wind affected, but still provided enjoyable skiing.

The mashed potatoes lower down, below 10,000', were a different story!

Great to be skiing, but we need a good couple of feet more to get the season going. At least the base is dense and well plastered.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Owens Valley Cyclocross

Owens Valley Cyclocross #3 at the Wye Road Course went off great!

Fortunately my wonderful wife hustled around and took a bunch of pics. 

In chronological order.

Eric rolls through the "party spot".

Doug drops into the "party spot"

Joe is all smiles in front of fall foliage.

Lots of battles out there. Royce and I were never too far apart.

Pete and Andreas hopping barriers early in the race.

B. Cashore and Eric go at it.

Kathleen pushes it up the run up.

Yours truly runs up.

While the maestro, Royce, rides it!

I've forgotten this gal's name! Apologies. Approaching the run up.

Joe sets her down and prepares to remount.

Kegan about to remount.

Doug drops into the horseshoe section.

Todd prepares to carve the drop in.

Brian too.

Karen wisely takes it with a healthy dose of caution.

Andreas & Bill battle some more

Rolling the meadow.

I try to keep Royce within striking distance late in the race.

Pete sets up for the hairpin turn.

Andreas with mountains.

 Chris chases Todd late in the race.

Pete rolls next to the creek.

The sprint at the end was close, but not close enough.
Royce, B. Cashore, and me.

Post race. Mutual respects!

Big thanks to the photographer.

And her able assistant.

And big thanks to all who came out and rode, cheered, counted laps, roasted brats, sipped beer, set up the course, took down the course, and, most of all, celebrated cyclocross Owens Valley style!!

Monday, September 8, 2014


Ever since riding up to Masonic with the crew two years ago (click here) I have wanted to explore the region north of the Bodie Hills along the East Fork of the Walker River and beyond.

I figured the wide gravel roads would be a perfect spot to "get acquainted" with my new cross bike and I'd get to see historical sites, big scenery, and, hopefully, some wildlife.

I parked along the East Fork of the Walker River eight or nine miles before the dirt turnoff figuring it would be nice to get a little spinning before and after the gravel grinding. In no time I found myself at "The Elbow" which would be last I would see of the river before it ventures into a narrow gorge. 

Beyond The Elbow, the road climbs steeply for a short stretch and then descends into this broad valley with Mt. Grant in the distance. 

To my surprise a little ranch quickly came to view. A check of the map confirmed it was Nine Mile Ranch (named because it is nine miles from Aurora).

Apparently Mark Twain stayed in this fine old brick house for a spell (reference).

Not long after Nine Mile Ranch I came to this junction and decided to head up into the hills for a little change of scenery.

I took the fork into Del Monte Canyon and rode up a few more miles on a pleasant road.

Heading back I noticed a patch of Cottonwoods and Willows just east of the above junction, so I decided to check it out. This is Fletcher Station  established as a stage stop and way station in the late 1860s. Best of all there was a nice spring there to top off my water bottles and freshen up.

Heading back I saw this fine Pronghorn Antelope by the side of the road who seemed a bit wary and a bit curious.

Finally, the last stretch of gravel with the east side of the Sweetwater Mountains in the distance.

Good one. Gotta come back for more someday!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Birthday Mountain Bike in the Sweetwaters

Been way too long. Apologies!

My great friend Jim hooked up with me for another incredible adventure ride. This time in the Sweetwater Mountains.

Started it out with some terrific single track along Desert Creek.

Then some cool rock formations along with some rugged hike a bike.

Crossing the line!

Amazing terrain with springs and meadows galore.

Then some more hike a bike. One hell of a crazy trail here!

At the end of the trail was this nice columnar basalt outcrop.

On the way back the road ran along a ridge with fine views and leg breaking pitches.

Here are the stark high peaks of the Sweetwaters with our ridge road in the foreground. Jim tackles one of the many steeps (click to enlarge).

Nearing the end in idyllic country.

Unreal! Gotta cook up some more routes in this area!
Thanks Jim.