It was a cold morning by that river, but it didn’t matter because we were pumped for town. With less then 10 miles to go to the junction for Mammoth Pass, we packed up fast, ate a breakfast bar and got rolling ASAP. Exiting the valley via its far edge, the trail inclined slightly along the side of a snowy slope. Here we bumped into Tom and Nellie who had camped no more than 0.2 miles from us.
They told us that Funk and Cricket had pushed the night before due to a shortage of food and would likely meet us in town. Up and over that slope with ease, we now made our way as a four winding through trees and ever approaching the junction. We made it, and though it had been a slog we now only had 3.5 miles to conquer off trail to reach the trailhead.
There was talk of the best route to take, either through the low forest and up a steep climb to the Pass summit or take the high ground via the Pass ridge. We took the latter, though the tracks dropped early from the ridge meaning we had to climb up the steady slope of Mammoth Pass anyway. It wasn’t much of a Pass; no view at its summit, no steep final push. Suddenly we found ourselves by Horseshoe Lake signifying the summit and made our way down to the car park. No cars could be seen, just snow, and a passer-by told us for why. “The road is still closed, you’ll need to head down it 4 miles or so before you can grab a hitch”.
Brilliant, this was becoming more of a day than we intended it to be, but what else could we do but take the road walk. The wood surrounding the car park was dead and a sign informed us that it was due to extraordinary levels of CO2 in the soil due to a rupture which formed below ground after an earthquake in the 80’s. It made for an eerie feeling which we were glad to be ride off as we strolled at pace down the road.
We passed people coming up to the trailhead on bike or running topless in classic California form. As they passed us asking “how was the hike?”, we couldn’t help but think “you don’t even know mate, jog on” Eventually we got to the car park, grabbed a lift, and headed straight for food before dropping by the Motel 6 to find Funk and Cricket.