Spring Awakening…Against Winter’s Better Judgement

Spring HAD sprung!  But winter was doing it’s darndest to fight it off.


The snow was melting!

I arrived in Mammoth to sunny skies and the delicious drip, drip of melting snow and thawing lakes.


After 8 months of snowshoeing and sledding and toting heavy items on my back I was ready for the snow season to be over.  If a groundhog popped up and announced 6 more weeks of winter I probably would have gone against my animal lover nature and wrung his little neck Phil Connors style.


For the first time since the start of the season I was able to walk to the cabin in just hiking boots.  Doing my best impression of Nancy Kerrigan slipping and sliding in my boots but sans snowshoes nonetheless.  I could actually step into the cabin without feeling like I was going to rip a hole in the crotch of my ski pants.


No yoga moves required today!  Not only could I step right in without some serious Cirque Du Soleil training but I could actually see DIRT.  As in the ground.  As in non- slippery, neck breaking, ice or snow. Good old fashioned MUD.  This was a major breakthrough. Here I was doing a jig because I could walk on D-I-R-T.  Wasn’t exactly the end of The Trail of Tears but I rejoiced nonetheless!


I could actually open the bedroom shutters for the first time in months!  Peeping Toms have at it, I was going to wake up with sunlight streaming in the windows instead of the dreary forest service green of the window shutters that I had been staring at for the past 7 months.



With my new found foot freedom everything got a lot easier and how the forest had awoken.  There was a still magic in the air.  You could feel the hushed awakening of everything.  Just there.  Just under the surface.


The first thing I noticed was the birds.  All the birds.  All types and kinds.  Flitting about. Chatting.  Singing.  All I could really see were the birds.  I loved being out at the cabin alone and watching them.  Getting close to them and just listening.  I was just out there being one of them.  Sitting with them.  Singing with them.  Listening to them sing their song as if they were awakening the forest.  Awakening the forest to the promise of spring and the summer that was to come.


It didn’t end with the birds.  I started to notice the first patches of green springing their way out of the snow.  Fighting to hold onto the sun and the life giving warmth.


Ahhh yes it was SPRING!  How many sonnets had been sung and written about just this moment.


And the waterfall…oh the waterfall!

What a sweet rush it was as it sought it’s way down the mountain with the first spring thaw!  Oh to have a thaw and a snow melt was a delight after the long drought and the waterfall sang it in it’s loudest voice!

It must have felt so proud to finally have a cacophonous voice again after several years of quiet waiting.  Like a mother showing off her new offspring the falls displayed their glorious brood of fresh snowmelt.  It was an uproar like a yard full of schoolboys at recess….in fact it felt like the whole earth was at recess this day and the birds were the school mistresses ringing the bell to play!


What a delight!

But nature was not done with winter….


It starting snowing that afternoon.  By evening it was a full deluge.  It was wonderful to sit in the cabin and watch the spring snowfall in such glorious proportions.  I thought it was going to have it’s way again but spring was strong in the air and putting up a fight.


The next morning there was a solid two inches on the ground and it seemed maybe the north wind of fairy tales was still determined to get her way.  Since I had actually managed to get both my goggles and my ski boots to the mountain at the same time I decided to go see if the fresh powder had made an impact on the quickly thawing runs.


It hadn’t.  By 10am any new snowfall was gone and spring had made a firm hold on the season and put winter  back in it’s place.  The mountain was a slushy mess before lunch and I decided to let spring have it’s way and put the skis to bed till the next year.


I took a hike on the newly plowed road up to Lake Mary and Lake Mamie to see how their emergence was going.  The snow had thawed around the army of canoes by the marina. They stood sentry like a pen of caged cats ready to pounce on Lake Mary.  Summer was coming and they were the first to show their attractive colors calling their suitors to the shore.


This spring vs. winter battle of wills continued for the next 3 days.  Each morning arose with the thrilling undressing of spring and each afternoon winter took it’s turn at trying to hold onto it’s winter skirt of the season.


I was content.  Content to watch this ferocious battle of wills every evening while sitting in front of my warm fire clutching a glass of red wine and being unsure of which noble contender I was hoping would win.


Winter into spring may be my favorite time at the cabin yet…..


Three Guys & a Case of Beer

Winter guests!  I was so excited!


Outside of my very first cabin guest Shawnte, who spent her whole visit selflessly helping me clean out mouse poop covered items in the mud room that ended with us both obsessing over whether or not we had contracted the hantavirus, no one had come to visit.

I guess not everyone’s idea of a dream winter getaway was spending it washing dishes and various body parts with a handy wipe and pooping into a compost.  We did however have some takers!


Our first course of business upon arrival was getting INTO the cabin.  It had snowed quite a bit since our last visit and the cabin door was pretty much buried.   It was fun to open the door and then toboggan right into the mud room.  Hazardous on snowshoes but rather fun!


I do rather enjoy shoveling out snow steps and we’ve come to realize getting these right are super important especially when trying to take them in snowshoes.  I bet Bozo The Clown was a kick ass snowshoer.  He could probably even go backwards.



My friend Paul and his buddy had decided to come out and join us for a winter ski weekend.   They were wonderful, thoughtful, adventurous guests, and we absolutely loved sharing our off the grid experience with them.


I’ve realized however after out trial winter guests that some winter rules were probably in order.

Commandment #1: THOU SHALL NOT PEE


Pee that is into the compost toilet after drinking copious amounts of beer to the point that the one girl in the group “moi” had to empty the pee jug at 2am after it spilled all over the floor.  The next night I made the wise pronouncement that any male drinking beer in the cabin had to go pee outside in the snow unless it was an absolute emergency or their feet were broken from falling drunk down the loft ladder.  That’s what johnsons are for right? Peeing outside.  I rest my case.




I’ve realized when you suggest someone not come after dark on their first night it is very different then telling them they CAN’T come after dark on their first night.  Although I had several conversations stating how unwise it was to arrive at the cabin after sunset, then having to snowshoe down an unmarked trail in the pitch black my first house guests still managed to arrive well after dark.  With no flashlight.  Thank goodness the iphone has a strong light, although a very weak battery life as they soon realized!   I don’t think they caught that checking into the cabin isn’t quite the same as checking into The Mammoth Mountain Inn.




I think this commandment is self explanatory.


After the boys late evening arrival in the pitch of night we got them settled in with some nice hilarity.  It’s interesting what people decide is important to lug through the snow, on their backs, in the dark, on snowshoes.  There was a Mary Poppins worthy moment when Paul started gorging things out of his back pack that he had brought.

The case of beer was of course expected, they had however left all their water in the car with the decision of not having enough room, beer always trumps water.  The jury is out on this one.


My favorite food decision was their two massive boxes of Jimmy Deans breakfast sandwiches.  I had mentioned that things for breakfast that could be cooked in the oven or boiled were wisest to avoid messy dishes and their solution was… Jimmy Deans!  While being the most unhealthy thing on the planet they were surprising delicious especially when we had them AND pizza one morning.  Mountain Breakfast at it’s finest!


I’m sure the bears will be breaking in in the spring to get their hands on the uneaten second box.  I guess they are handy to have in case of a snowed in Donner Party style emergency.



The snow was dumping, the boys were excited, and we were all ready to hit the mountain for some serious powder.  Or so I thought.  I guess the boys were ready but I apparently was not.  I first realized I had managed to leave not one but both my pair of goggles at home.  No big deal I thought, I can manage to get by with just sunglasses.  We loaded up the car and set out for the hill.


Then the car started making a funny noise.  Then a light came on.  Why does this only happen in Mammoth in the middle of February and only on a Saturday?  I wasn’t going to let bad luck ruin the fun for the gang so parked and unloaded the skis and set out to try and get an appointment for that day.  They didn’t have room for me till after lunch so I decided I might as well grab a few runs while I wait.

Remember those sunglasses?  By the time I got on the mountain it was a straight up ice blizzard.  I tried to do a run in my sunglasses and felt like my eyes were getting raped by a platoon of swarovski crystals.  I gave it a couple more tries and decided after almost falling every 3 turns because I couldn’t see that it probably wasn’t worth going blind or breaking a leg for a couple of measly runs before I had to inch the car to the mechanic.  It’s fine tomorrow was another day and the weather was supposed to be nicer.


Which it WAS!  Only my skis were locked in the mechanic shop that was closed on Sundays.  I hadn’t thought of that when I handed over the subaru keys and left to await the verdict.   Yes my car was fixable but only with a part out of Bishop which they couldn’t get till Monday.  No big deal, I had my own place now, and could stay as long as I like.  No more worrying about extending an expensive room night, or the hotel being sold out, I had a long term reservation in with the US Forest Service!


Now if only I had remembered to grab my skis!  There’s always next time.  Ironically though the next trip up I remembered my goggles but then forgot my ski boots.  In my 15+ years of skiing Mammoth Mountain I had never forgotten one of those items let alone two of them in a row.  Either the cabin altitude was making me ditzy or there was some serious forces at work to keep me off the hill this year!  I wonder if The Ghostbusters need to be called to exercise the mountain for me?