Who does not LOVE spontaneous weekend trips to a Winter Wonderland?!? Steve and I decided to make the 6-hour drive from San Diego to Mammoth, CA on a whim and are we sure glad that we did because this snowy playground only shows its powdery-white-face one season a year. Actually, the original purpose of this trip was for Steve to break in his snowboarding skills before his 5th annual, world-famous, Bro-trip which is taking place in Tahoe, CA (72 Hours in South Lake Tahoe) later this season.
June Lake is a little town just 25-minutes north from the town of Mammoth and the drive is outstanding with jaw-dropping alpine scenery! The town is beyond charming and sits atop a glistening glacier lake encircled by snaggletooth peaks stretching upward towards the skies above. Each morning I woke up to gentle snowfall in 5 degree weather but it was worth it to take a moment, breathe in the fresh air and appreciate mother nature at its finest, it does not get much lovelier or peaceful than this.
We stayed at the June Lake Villager Motel and my first impression was far from stellar when I looked at their photos online. It reminded me of the creepy motel out of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, no joke! But seeing it in person blew me away because we were greeted by an array of colorful holiday lights on the exterior of the building and the interior of our room was decorated with local art pieces and images of the lake. ADORBS!
Our room was super clean, cozy and seemed quite updated, it definitely exceeded my expectations and I am looking forward to our next stay.
I have not been snowboarding in over seven years and was never good at it to begin with, not even close! This time I decided to take a 2-hour beginner’s lesson, it ended up being a private lesson, and I definitely learned a lot. The conditions were less than ideal at Eagle Lodge with tons of ice, choppy snow and it was quite sticky but the sun was shining bright and there was barely any chill-factor or wind.
Canyon & Main Lodge had much better conditions for both days: a few inches of powder in the morning, groomed and packed mostly everywhere but chewed up by mid-day. Nevertheless, we were blessed with the bluest of skies, high 20’s, barely any wind-chill and not too large of crowds.
From Main Lodge I would definitely recommend taking the Panorama Gondola up to McCoy Station and/or The Top @ Eleven 53 for some breath-taking views of the mountain. At the end of the day on Saturday we opted for grabbing a night-cap @ the Tusks Bar which offered awesome views of the 2018 Olympic US Team Trials and Grand Prix. Steve ordered the most random drink made up of a Moscow Mule mixed with hot chocolate and he named it The Mammoth Mule. I went for a more traditional Paleo-route with my unflavored Ciroc Vodka, soda-water and a lemon wedge.
Dinner-time was slowly creeping upon us the second night and although the sensational smells of pizza were everywhere, we decided to seek-out a more natural, healthy-type of restaurant. Garden of Eat’n came highly recommended by some locals and the food was very good. We started with a Hummus Plate & a bowl of chicken soup followed by Chicken Pot Pie and Thai Yellow Curry. Now, I feel it is worth mentioning that Steve and I try our very best to stick to a 100% compliant Paleo diet while traveling but it is extremely difficult when eating out, so we do the best that we can.
The Hummus Plate is fine if you only eat the veggies and olives, or your can request a side of fresh veggies on their own plate. Chicken Soup was fine on its own, it was extremely nourishing. The Chicken Pot Pie was not Paleo whatsoever because it had both dairy and gluten, no subs. The Thai Yellow Curry had chickpeas in it and was served over brown rice mixed with quinoa but can be served over veggies instead.
Try to remember that traveling and vacations are about relaxing so try your best not to stress over being/not being 100% compliant. I wasted so much time beating myself up and it ruined many of our vacations early on in my healing journey. NEVER AGAIN!!! Don’t get me wrong, I won’t go crazy binging on pizza, ice cream & beer. Instead, I research the restaurant options, call ahead to speak with their manager or chef and discuss what options are compliant for my personal diet. It takes some extra effort on my part but it is not any different from when I eat out back home and it’s better than having a flare-up due to contamination.
No joke, this is my FAVE spot in all of Mammoth for breakfast, coffee, juice, smoothies & a wide selection of Vegan/Paleo goodies and the prices were super affordable. I had a Wild-tonic Blueberry Kombucha, Basin Bowl w/extra veggies and grabbed a few of their baked goodies for our road-trip home. All of their ingredients were SUPER fresh, organic & locally-grown in California. Their menu offers a variety of options for herbivores, carnivores, omnivores and can easily be subbed dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free or whatever suits specific dietary needs.
Steve snowboards a lot more frequently so he went for a second day while I explored the Village and was determined to track down a well-earned massage. There are a ton of massage boutiques to choose from but I decided on Ananya Integrative Bodywork which came highly recommended from the locals as well as Michelle V. Mather. Both are extremely well priced, professional customer service and very open-minded to last-minute bookings. I decided to go book with Ananya Integrative Bodywork and Sarah gave me one of the best massages I’ve ever experienced, seriously top-notch!
While chains are not 100% required to get to the mountain and surrounding town it is highly recommended to bring them, especially if you do not have a vehicle with 4WD/AWD. In some cases (heavy snowfall and/or icy road conditions) you will be required to use them and may even go through a checkpoint that will force you to turn around if you are not prepared. We rented a GMC Acadia with AWD through Costco; if you have a Costco membership and travel often I highly recommend you check their rental car rates! More often than not they are the cheapest available and you get extra perks/bonuses for using Costco.
Other ways to save some $$$ while at the mountain:
- Bring your own food and snacks. While there are plenty options for food on the mountain a full meal at lunch/dinner for two will easily set you back $60-$100!
- On Friday and Saturday there is almost always something going on at Main Lodge or at Eleven 53 after the lifts stop running. Grab a drink, sit around the fire and make some new friends!
- Check out the Village if you want to do the touristy thing but the real charm and action at Mammoth is in town, not at the village.
- Mammoth is a very large mountain but the town is much smaller and slower paced than the likes of Aspen, Lake Tahoe, Breckenridge, etc. Enjoy the vibe and go with the flow 🙂