Mammoth Lakes: Summertime Hiking
California is the dreamiest of American states for adventure lovers, offering all kinds of environments from its famous sandy beaches to enchanting national parks. Last year, in August, a group of friends and I decided to visit a famous Southern Californian ski destination to… not ski. To hike.
A five-hour drive from Los Angeles, going northeast, Mammoth Lakes is a popular destination for winter sports and underrated for summer activities. I was so excited for the hiking trip there as it was my first time visiting Mammoth. We decided to start driving early in the morning, not only to avoid the heat while crossing the Mojave but also to make some stops on our way to Mammoth, such as the Manzanares Campground and Death Valley (which I highly recommend visiting in early spring or autumn to avoid the summer’s heat).
Before hiking, check your wardrobe for a good pair of hiking boots (which is preferred over tennis shoes since its grip on loose soil is better) and high-quality hiking poles (it’s worth the investment; aluminum ones are my favorite as they are lower weight). Also, don’t forget a backpack (with a built-in water pouch), some energy bars and snacks, a first-aid kit, and a bell or whistle for any emergencies. You can find all the equipment necessary on the Internet or specialized outdoor-adventure stores.
Mammoth Lakes town is a charming place surrounded by mesmerizing mountains and crystal-clear lakes. After dropping our bags at the hotel, we went out to explore the town by walking part of the hiking loop (the “Town Loop” is about 7.5 miles in total) to get a fishing license for some of my friends and get adapted to the high altitude.
The following morning, we hiked a combination of trails starting at the Coldwater-George trail; this is a fantastic 2.9-mile hike that connects three lakes. We added the TJ Lake loop to our hike, which offers a close view of Mammoth Crest and Crystal Crag. If you feel like having a break, this secluded trail is an excellent stop to have a snack. In my case, I removed my hiking boots and submerged my feet in the cold water; it was revitalizing! It is hard to describe the beauty of the lakes; you must see them in person! They are clear as a glass can be, and the tranquil environment will relax your mind.
I suggest starting your hike in the early morning so you can enjoy wildlife and avoid crowds since this is a popular trail. We finished our hike around 11 a.m. at Lake George, where we met our friends that were fishing at this location. Unfortunately, everyone who went for the hike – including me – missed an encounter with a black bear and her two cubs, who were seen getting a bath on the lake five minutes before our arrival. I think that would have been the cherry on the top of a cake to see a bear! At least, that is what I was thinking until we hiked the Mammoth Pass, but that adventure will be for another blog.
Finally, it is important to remember that planning and preparedness are the keys to any trip. There are many websites with a free checklist that you can download; they can help you to check for missing items or for those that need repair or to be substituted.
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