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Mammoth Mountain hike

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Aug. 24th, 2010 | 08:53 pm

Mammoth Mountain -- 11,053'
Trip length: 6.94 miles
Trip time: Approx. 5 hours

This past weekend a group of friends and I drove up to Mammoth Lakes for a weekend at Camp High Sierra for lots of eating, drinking and hiking. Some trigger inside me has gone haywire and every mountain I encounter seemingly beckons me to climb to its summit. Having Mammoth Mountain about a mile away made this hike almost a no-brainer. Only problem was that my friends don't particularly share this peak-bagging enthusiasm with me. They enjoy a good hike, don't get me wrong, but spending half a day inching up a giant lava dome only to be windswept and chilled to the bone isn't at the top of their "weekend fun" list.

We drove out to the trailhead at Twin Lakes campground after a breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausage and arrived at 9:30am.

Eager to get started, I darted up the trail only to hit a wrong turn about 10 yards after we got started. Haha. After this initial error, I let my buddies guide the group along for the most part.

We reached a cool lookout at what's called the Bottomless Pit three-quarters of a mile into our hike. After the pit, the Mammoth Mountain Trail splits up. One (harder) path leads up the Dragons Back, the other is an easier route known as the Twin Lakes trail. We opted to take the faster, scarier Dragons Back trail for the ascent.

Following the climb up the Dragons Back, we began to slow down. Our fingers puffed up and energy levels began dwindling. The elevation and upset tummies were trying to keep us from reaching the summit. We plugged along taking many breaks, snacking on jerky, trail mix and granola bars and reached the summit a little over three hours after we started the hike.

Scott and I celebrated with a couple of beers inside the Top of the Sierras gondola station. (It's really kind of bizarre to reach the summit on foot only to find families and mountain bikers chillin' up in an interpretive center and café. Sort of makes you feel shafted.)

The descent along the trail was unbelievably fast. The trail is so well-maintained that hiking almost lends itself to jogging as you glide along the switchbacks down Mammoth Mountain. We took the Twin Lakes fork of the Mammoth Mountain trail to the Bottomless Pit and completed the trip back to Twin Lakes in about 90 minutes. One odd thing I noticed during the hike was how few people we encountered along the train. We came across a mother/daughter, a couple of older hikers and a Scandinavian family were climbing down while we climbed up, which I thought was kinda sad because the trail provides some stunning views of the Mammoth Lakes basin and the surrounding Ansel Adams Wilderness and John Muir Wilderness.

Atop Mammoth Mountain

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