On the 3rd of July we headed over Monitor Pass from Tahoe to Highway 395 south towards Mammoth Mountain. After record breaking snowfall this past ski season Mammoth is still open and operating daily. With a chance to cross skiing on the 4th of July off our bucket list, we were extremely excited for the upcoming shred session.
We pulled up to one of our favorite campsites at crab cooker hot spring off of benton crossing road that night around 11:00PM. Its a free campsite on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and we have camped there multiple times before, the first time being on our first road trip across the country 2 years ago. We decided that night to get to sleep so we could get on the mountain early the next day. We got up the next morning made bacon, eggs, and coffee then donned our America flag bathing suits we’d be skiing in that day, then headed towards the mountain.
By the time we got to the mountain we realized that we were not the only folks that were crossing skiing on the 4th of July off of their to-do list, and we were in for a party of a day. The parking lots were full and the ticket line at Stump Alley was off the charts long. We ended up pulling the van into Lot C and threw our boots on, smeared sunscreen on our bare spots hurriedly and caught the next bus to the main lodge.
The ticket office was not too bad, we got our tickets (half off for having a pass to another mountain: Score!) in about ten minutes and hit the Broadway Express chair lift. By then it was about 8:30AM and the party was in full swing, there were folks in red, white, and blue all over the place. Crazy costumes bathing suits and short-shorts, it was just about the best scene I have ever been able to witness.
The snow was perfect, not icy at all and super fun to push around. After a few warm-up runs on the lower stuff we headed to the top of the mountain via chair 23. We spent most of the day skiing 23 and the gondola with some breaks for beer here and there. Justin even dropped Hangman’s Hollow chute with some impressive technique! I, of course watched from the bottom of the chute.
We rode the day away and took our last run down climax run the double black diamond directly under the gondola. My legs were hurting from a day of pushing slush around not to mention my ski boots are about the worst thing in the world, so just around 2pm we headed back to the van. We stopped by Burger’s, an awesome restaurant across the street from mammoth village and each got a patty melt, french fries and Bloody Mary’s. It was so delicious and we even took home a whole box of fries as leftovers (which we later consumed for dinner.
Once back at our campsite we promptly both took a few hour long nap to catch up the beers, the early morning ski trip, and the patty melts we gorged ourselves on.
After our nap we woke up and were ready to do some sitting in the hot spring. So we walked down there expecting it to be really hot and for us not to be there that long; we were both pretty sunbeaten and sunburned at this point. It was hot and being in the sun all day had really taken it out of us. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to handle and extra hot spring at that point. When we got in it was perfect temperature hardly warm at all.
Crab cooker hot spring is a man- made tub that is fill with water that is diverted via PVC pipe from a natural spring about 30 feet away. The direct water source is extremely hot and when it runs to the tub it could literally cook a crab. Lucky for us there is a on off switch and a drain so folks can add hot water and then turn it off when the water becomes the right temperature. That being said if you leave the valve on when you leave you can completely ruin it for the next person because there is no way to cool down the water once its hot except for time. When we showed up that night some one had turned it off previously, so we pretty much hit the jackpot.
Since the hot spring was luke warm when we got there we turned on the valve so we could heat it up as we sat. The hot water pretty much comes in a trickle when the tub is full so we knew we would have to be there awhile before it got too hot and we fully did not expect to be there for that long. After about 45 minutes of hanging out, we saw another van pull into the parking lot. We were excited for some company in hot springs is usually interesting and these folks also were van people.
They came down from the van and introduced themselves as Nate and Alexandra the had a Sprinter Van and Justin and I expressed how jealous we were of how they could stand up inside their van. They were relieved and said how much they dislike when you roll up to hot springs and the folks in them like to act like they own the place and how dare you impose, we agree and began to chat. They were both living in LA and they were working on building out there rig. They told us had just gotten a stove and we laughed about the quirks of van life. We found out we all had a lot in common; Justin and Nate are the same age and Alexandra was also from Georgia.We talked about our adventures so far, shitty jobs we’ve, free places to park, Adventures to come, and all kinds of interesting things.
After about an Hour or so of chatting with Nate and Alexandra, another couple people came down to the tub. The said hello and asked if we minded if they join. We replied of course not this is public land! This belongs to all of us and please feel free. Then they told us the had about 12 other people coming. Thinking they we joking (this is a decent size tub, but 18 people in it would be pushing it) they hopped in and joined the conversation. Shortly after that about 12 more people showed up ready to party. We ended up drinking beers and doing sparklers in the hot spring until after midnight. What a way to spend the 4th of July! We’re still trying to get in touch with the guy who took pictures of the whole group in the tub that night with the sparklers…
We hung out another day or two to do some hiking around Convict lake as well as check out a few other hot springs in the area. We had a blast in Mammoth as always but it was time to continue onto the next destination…
The next day we packed everything up as we always do and headed towards Spencer Hot Springs out in the middle of Nevada on Hwy 50, dubbed “the loniest highway in America”. This should be interesting…