Mammoth Opens

Mammoth Opens

The toughest thing about writing is getting started. It’s called writer’s block and every writer I know has a different way of dealing with it. Me – I usually just start firing till things get rolling. But, sitting here at a diner in Bridgeport, California at the end of a day like today is making this start pretty easy.

The mellow late-70s Al Green and Barbara Streisand music, navy-blue vinyl seats at the booths and waitress reading a book at the breakfast bar should give you a good idea for the décor and how many other people are in here at 6:30 p.m. Now you’re probably wondering why I’m here and what this has to do with skiing. Well, it has everything to do with skiing.

I spent all week looking forward to today. It was opening day at Mammoth. Just $35 lift tickets, three jibs and one guaranteed lift-accessed run all lie just another 30 minutes south of this place. Finally, an opportunity to get the first turns in a long time. And in my case it’s been almost seven months.

I woke up super-early to get the family out the door so I could drive three hours south from Reno to Mammoth. I loaded up a few different pairs of skis just in case it was waist-deep powder. Actually, like everyone knows, I brought them because no one can wait to try out new gear. I am no exception.

I drove through the Nevada Capitol Carson City and down to Minden and Gardnerville. These are all standard landmarks on the migration route for thousands of skiers who travel Hwy. 395 toward Mammoth. The highway eventually brings you to a trick inspection station along the California border. There was some kind of major bug infestation a few decades ago so officials used to check all vehicles entering California. Now they’re there so you won’t miss that fact that you’re in a new state.

The trip continues through the small town Bridgeport and on to Lee Vining where you can see your first glimpse of snow-covered ski area at June Mountain. Thirty minutes and one scenic route cut-off later, and you’re atop Minaret Road where you can battle it out for close parking. That is unless it’s opening day and there is one run of wholesome, manmade snow.

Eat your heart out New York cause I’m skiing today! I got about 20 runs in 2.5 hours and took some pretty decent photos. It was a great day. I even passed up the customary ‘opening-day beer’ to get back in time to pick up the family before 5:30 in Reno. After all, a beer is a small sacrifice to ski opening day. I loaded up my gear at 2:15 and jumped on the shortcut, making great time. Onward through Lee Vining by Mono Lake and through Bridgeport. I got back up to 70 mph to make good time again and set the cruise.
Then – “Chug, Chug (motor redlines twice) – – BANG. BANGA, BANGA, BANGA, BANGA!” “Oh shit, I think I should probably stop,” I thought. So I did.

Well sure enough, the motor blew. Just like that.
So that’s why I’m in this diner and what this has to do with skiing. Now I’m finishing my greasy grilled cheese and headed to the bar next door for that ‘opening-day beer.’ My ride should be here in a few hours.

But, I’m doing it wearing ski pants. I made great turns today, hung out with friends, snagged a few photos of Rom and Armada Regional Rider Sean Logan, and saw some of those people you only see on the chair every winter. My new skis rock and I even got some pretty sweet tip rolls down with Sean. I met a few more guys from Tahoe and laughed with them about how they skied this morning, rode bikes over lunch and met me in the parking lot changing back into snow pants for a few more laps. I even got a story done despite everything.

Well, here’s to opening day.

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