Tag Archive | mammoth mountain

Tourist Stop

The downhill hike to Devils Postpile, the ranger station and shuttle stop was easy and uneventful. The were significant areas with fallen trees, and plenty of work had made the trail passable.

Once we reached the area of the postpiles, we had entered the land of day trippers with clean hair and fresh laundry. I’m sure that we looked and smelled…well, bad. We dropped our packs at the path junction and hiked up to the top of the postpiles. Ver-ry cool – they look like pavers.

Down below, it’s amazing to see how the lava channeled and formed in the natural order of a hexagon pattern.

We hike back to the junction, grab our packs and hike to the ranger station/shuttle stop. We don’t even have time to drink our freshly mixed Wyler’s – two (!) shuttle buses show up within 5 minutes of our arrival at the stop. We hop on.

At the last stop, a group of backpacking scouts crowd onto the shuttle. We listen to one of the boys brag about his 60-pound pack. I hope that he is exaggerating – it would be irresponsible, and frankly stupid, for the leader to allow this. While not everyone can afford ultralight gear, a “regular” pack and gear can be perfectly adequate weighing in at 40 pounds.

Relieved to be off of the crowded shuttle, we stopped for a beer at the “chalet” at Mammoth Mountain. But, there were just too many tourists for us after our relatively solitary days in the high country. We loaded up and headed for motel room waiting for us in June Lake.

Park Here, Shuttle Where?

In our research we found varying information about the shuttle into Red’s Meadow/Devils Postpile area, where we would be entering and exiting the wilderness area.  Word is that the road is closed to general traffic from 7 am to 7 pm, and this we found was generally true.

Our experience with the shuttle was another matter.  According to the information we found, reconfirmed by the ranger when we picked up our permit, was that the shuttle starts running at 7 am, and runs continuously every 15-20 minutes.  We didn’t feel that we needed to get the very first shuttle, but we were mindful of the potential for rain, and the distance and elevation gain of our first day, with our packs at their heaviest, and us at our least adjusted to altitude.

We changed into hiking clothes and boots, parked the car and headed towards the lodge building.  The shuttle stop location was not immediately obvious from the parking lot, and we wandered around until we found what looked like the spot.  The ticket window opens at 8 am, so we purchased our tickets ($7/person for a round trip ride), and went to stand at the stop, the first in the queue.  There was a bean bag toss game out on the lawn: we challenged each other to a bean bag duel.  This would amuse, and we could easily see the shuttle coming.

8:15 came and went. No shuttle. Then 8:30. Then 8:45.  At about 8:55, a shuttle finally pulled up.  By then, there was quite a line, including numerous backpackers who were probably just as anxious as us to get on the trail.  Once on the shuttle, the driver half-heartedly apologized for our wait, that a driver had not shown up for work.  So, it appears that balls were dropped to not fill in the missing driver.  And no one associated with the shuttle service seemed to care much.

The road is narrow, steep and winding – with a breathtaking view.

When we got off the shuttle at Agnew Meadows (the first stop), we found that there were plenty of parking spaces there (contrary to the information from the ranger).  Next time, we will get up early enough to drive ourselves in, and use the shuttle to get back to our car.