Ever since moving to California, Mammoth has been on the top of my list to visit. Everyone always said Big Bear doesn't compare to Mammoth and boy, were they right! Harrison (my boyfriend) and I decided it was the perfect week for a getaway. I have intuitively felt that I needed to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of life and treat myself to some ecotherapy. We're both in this stage of wanting to "save money" and it happened to be the week of Valentine's Day so most hotels were booked and the only Airbnb's left were $500/night. So we thought why not just camp in nature.... for free? We packed our snowboards, camping gear, and food into the car and drove 6 hours from Carlsbad to Mammoth Lakes!

1st stop: snowboarding!

We spent the day on the mountain snowboarding while the weather gave us fresh powder to ride on. It was absolutely freezing and a bit frustrating for me since I'm still learning how to snowboard but overall it was super fun! Highly recommend going on a Monday or weekday- there were zero lines and it seemed like no one was on the mountain! 

Mammoth mountain gondola ride

2nd stop: camping!

We landed here:

Temperatures got down to between 10-20 degrees during nighttime but we had 5 blankets, a sleeping bag, layers of clothing, body heat, and Earth's natural hot spring to keep us warm. This experience was worth more than any hotel we could've stayed at. Our eyes saw the sky cluttered with stars as we sat in the hot spring.. Our ears filled with the echo of coyotes howling and crickets chirping. We woke up to deer outside our tent while watching the sun emerge from the mountains and illuminate the crisp morning sky. I felt whole and free, consumed by the feeling of being alive. This place is star-gazing goals. Seriously, I've never seen so many stars in my life. We saw around 5 or 6 shooting stars! If you like being in nature and don't mind getting out of your comfort zone, I will tell you camping is definitely an experience when visiting Mammoth! It's FREE, fun, and creates memories for a lifetime! 

3rd stop: FOOD!!!

After a long night camping and being cold, it was time for a warm drink and meal. A few Yelp searches later, I found Stellar Brew after seeing the words "vegan burrito" and decided that's where were going. This place is a cute, locally grown and owned gem in the heart of Mammoth Lakes. The owner studied holistic nutrition and believes that what you put in your body is essential to your happiness, which in turn effects the happiness of those around you. Each meal is prepared with love and packed with nutrients to ensure you have the capability to give the day your best performance. Definitely my type of place! Their food is BOMB! Harrison got the vegan burrito which had tempeh, potatoes, and vegetables with a warm Yerba Mate tea to drink. I got the Basin Bowl which is a warm bowl of organic brown rice, shredded organic carrots and organic beets, chopped kale and organic tomato drizzled with bragg's amino acid topped with lemon tahini dressing with a chai tea! This meal satisfied me more than I expected! If you're in Mammoth and would like a healthy affordable meal, I recommend this place :)

Stellar Brew: 3280 Main St, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

4th stop: Convict Lake

We didn't even plan to go here but I'm so grateful we stumbled upon it! We were driving from Mammoth to Big Pine to do our hike when we saw a sign that said "Convict Lake, 2 miles" and knew we had to make a quick stop. So happy we did! This lake is in the Sherwin Range of the Sierra Nevada and lies at an elevation of 7,850 ft. 

5th and final stop: Big Pine Lakes

My friend showed me this hike on Google and told me it was on the way to/from Mammoth and it was worth the stop so we added it to our list! Neither of us had heard about Big Pine Lakes or knew about the hike it involved. The hike to Big Pine Lakes via the North Fork Trail is a great way to see the beauty on display in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Starting at the Big Pine Creek Campground, this trail passes by Mt. Alice, before entering the John Muir Trail Wilderness of Inyo National Forest. There are 7 Big Pine Lakes, numbered sequentially. For this hike, we only made it to Lon Chaney Cabin which is 3.5 miles in. The cabin was designed by Paul Revere Williams, a famous Los Angeles architect, and was built for only $12,000 in 1929. We were racing against sunlight and only had a few hours to get back before dusk. The first three lakes on the hike are known to be the most scenic, as they sit with the majestic Temple Crag in the background. The whole hike is around 11 miles and in the winter time, you definitely need proper gear to hike it. 

After seeing this small glimpse of the John Muir Wilderness, we added conquering more trails to our bucket list! The John Muir Trail is a long-distance trail that goes through the Sierra Nevada mountain range, passing through Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks. The trail's length is 210 miles. When we were out exploring, I didn't realize how in love with mountains I was until I saw the Sierra's. These mountains are absolutely gorgeous. The Sierra Nevada Mountain's run 400 miles north-to-south and approximately 70 miles across east-to-west. Mind-blowing!

Lost in nature... I find myself. I am at home in nature. 

I hope everyone gets to experience this little slice of paradise someday.. Mammoth will capture your heart and make you resonate with the quote "home is where the mountains are." -John Muir

Alyssa PereiraComment