Monday, November 26, 2012

Adventure: Mammoth Mountain Part 1

The sun is just coming up. The sky is cloudless. There is hardly a breath of wind. My board sits on top of the water. Getting the feeling of Deja Vu? This wasn't my morning surfing. This morning, I am 300 miles from the ocean, 11,000 feet above sea level on top of Mammoth mountain.

My trip started Friday afternoon. I flew up from Los Angeles International Airport. Alaska Airlines is the only company who flies into the Mammoth Lakes airport and its only fitting that it is with a nice little prop plane.

The flight time was a little over an hour. Much better than the 5 plus hours it would take to drive up there from LA. The flight was smooth enough and the scenery was quite nice, especially with the sunsetting into the distance.

After landing, I hopped onto the shuttle to a group of condos and shops grouped together simply known as "The Village". Our accommodations for the weekend was a three bedroom condo. Unfortuntaely, being the last to arrive, I was stuck on the couch. However, considering where I was, I was hardly going to complain.

Saturday morning came to and I was up early and eager to go. One frustrating thing about ski resorts is that you are limited to when the lifts are open. But then again, so does everyone else. When there is more snow on the ground, there is a gondola that goes straight from the "Village" up to the ski slopes of Mammoth. At this time however, there was not enough snow so the shuttle was the way to go.

I stepped off the shuttle at right as the lifts started. First tracks are the nicest. I was unlucky to not get them as I had to still get my lift ticket. This process was surprisingly easy though so it wasn't long before I was on a lift headed up the slopes.

It had been about 3 years since I had last snowboarded so I was a little cautious at first while I let it come back to me. Soon enough though, I was feeling comfortable again and started gaining more confidence. After a few runs, I found my way up to the top for the longer, harder runs and of course, the best views.

With no clouds in the sky, the view was amazing. You could see miles in every direction. It made me smile just being out in such a beautiful area with no worries; just me, the sun and the snow. I was hundreds of miles away from any type of stress from the real world. Eventually, the laws of physics came to strike as what goes up, must come down. It was time for me to head back down. As I peered over the edge, my heart started beating with excitement.

The vertical drop was close to 2000 feet. The slope was probably close to 50 or 60 degrees. As I stood up and began my run down. The adrenaline was flowing. I could feel the wind blow by as carved back and forth. Down the slope. I was still not up to my old level of comfort so I had to control my speed.

Halfway down, I had to take a break. My legs were burning. I was out of shape. After a minute break. I continued my run. I made it to the bottom of that run and continued down to the main lodge which was another 1000 feet vertical down. The run to this lodge though was much less steep and so I allowed myself to go a little faster.

I pulled into the main lodge to stepped out of my bindings. The friends I was with had been there for two days so they were tired and sore from snowboarding the previous days. They were just getting up off the shuttle so I was meeting up with them. The lifts shut down at 4 pm and we all headed down from the lodge back to the "Village" via the shuttle. I had assumed the excitement of my day had already been done. Apparently I was mistaken.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2.

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