Mammoth Hot Springs & Terraces

16 March 2020 by 1der Girl

  1. Let's hope they don't shut down the campground (or the park itself 😱) like what happened with the ski areas!

In the middle of the night, we were awaken by a soft, distinctive Hoo. Hoo. Pause. Hoo Hoo. We couldn't see it, but there was an owl perched on a nearby tree. Sooo cool.

Here's where our home will be until we decided to leave (or until the decision)1 is made for us...)

Beastie did a great job yesterday playing snowplow!


He got dreads so he could pretend he's a bison.

We take social distancing very seriously. So does our son.

We always like to go to any Visitor's Center to pick up info and learn about the places. We were very surprised and dismayed to find the doors to the Mammoth Visitor's Center locked. No information was posted on the door, and no pamphlets or information were available.

Thankfully, another tourist came up, and she had the "newspaper"-style brochure. I took pictures of it. I mentioned this because if you can't get maps, don't have cell connection, etc., take photos of information pasted on windows, ask other tourists, etc.

We wanted to explore the Mammoth Hot Springs area and the Lower Terraces (please note that one cannot go into the water at these hot springs). It's so beautiful during winter / early spring. The walkways are still mostly covered in snow and slippery, so I was really happy to have my spikes.

The lower terraces of the Mammoth Hot Springs.
We have been called nauseating by some younger family members.
Coming here during winter presents a whole other level of visual sumptuousness. The contrast of colors, the steam and moisture refracting in the sunlight, the whisps of white moving through the brightness. The only sounds: moving water, steam and the wind. How can one not give so much thanks for being alive at this moment?

Along the way, we passed John, a gentleman on cross-country skis (there's a ski and snowshoe trail all around the Terraces). He was taking off his skis to cross an area where the snow melted away, which was the asphalted parking area of the upper terraces. We asked about his snowshoe trails familiarity on this side of the park.

Turns out he works at the Mammoth medical clinic (in the park), and he was extremely knowledgeable and provided excellent info about the trails. He also warned us about bears. They are waking up now from hibernation, and we needed to carry bear spray. Unfortunately we left ours at home, because who needs bear spray when you're alpine skiing? I guess us, when COVID breaks out in the middle of your Ski Bumming, Yeah Baby! trip.

John so kindly offered to drop off (to our campsite) a map with all the ski routes. This info will be great, especially since the visitor's center abruptly closed and no info is readily available (and there's no cell service at the campground).

On the way, we had our first encounter, sort of scary, with a bison. We were parked on the side of the road, watching at a distance, and then...

Two surprises when we got back to the campground:

First: As we rounded the corner, 1der spotted another van with a pop-top. We slowed down, and he proceeded to rattle off the year and version of that top. Wow. And I thought he was good at reciting movie lines... A couple and their three kids were setting up camp. The man comes over and starts chatting. Indeed it is the year and model of the top.

The guy is a forum member! When 1der introduces himself by his forum handle, I urge him to reveal his "real" identity. When the guy found out it was 1der, he said, "I can't believe I'm meeting 1der!" It was so cool to hear this, as it makes me so proud to have my soul mate be such a well-respected van dude. We made plans to see them tomorrow.

Second Surprise: Hanging from the site marker at our campsite were snowshoe trail maps, a hand-written card, and... John lent us his bear spray and harness. Keep in mind we are complete strangers. We are very touched and grateful for John's generous spirit and trust in us. We'll return the spray when we leave, which means, hopefully, in a long while. Also hoping, of course, we will return it unused...

1der Girl
1der Girl


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