Due to popular demand, ROC returned to Mammoth for the second time. This year’s adventure proved to be just as popular as last year’s, as it was sold out once again. While the trip started off rather odd, it turned out to be yet another epic excursion.
Before we even made it to the drivers meeting Friday morning, we were notified that one truck would be out for family reasons and three other trucks would be out because the drivers could not get the day off work Friday. Then, as the rest of us arrived at the meet spot and were checking in, we received word from two other drivers that they would have to bow out. One driver’s truck had been stolen and the other truck was having engine issues. The event hadn’t even started and we were already five trucks down. This was one of the most attrition laden events we have ever done and we had yet to hit the dirt.
With all the crazy pre-trip issues, we had a total of 15 trucks in attendance. Not only did we have the usual Ford Raptors and Toyota Tacoma’s, but for the first time, also in attendance were a Chevy and a Colorado 4×4 (not the new fancy one, but the standard 4×4). Once we were able to get everyone checked in and squared away, we were ready to hit the dirt. Day 1 of the excursion would be our longest run day, as we had to make our way over the Sierra Nevada mountain range to Mammoth. The first section of trails was familiar, as we have used it in past adventures. About a quarter of the way through the trip, we stopped at the only planned fuel stop for the day. Here, we also took advantage of the only actual bathroom we would visit for the day. We then moved on to explore some new trails. These trails led to a rocky section that had some huge boulders to dodge. After the rocks, we hit a canyon with a lot of over grown bushes. Ready or not, it was time for some Sierra pin striping. Once we reached an overland marker leading to the old cemetery of Pine Grove, we eagerly climbed the hill to get out of the “Trail of Trees,” as we called it.
Lunch was in the old ghost town of Pine Grove. Following lunch, we hit the last section of trails to Mammoth. The first part of this section consisted of fast trails, followed by a rally section that was made for Raptors. Making great time, we hit the end of the new section for the day. This turned out to be the “Rock Garden Trail,” which was not the best, but not the worst of the rocky trails we have ever driven. The pain of this trail was well worth it though, as it led to one of the most gorgeous views we have seen of the valley below. Following the long descent down to the valley, we finally hit pavement for the drive into Mammoth. This marked the end of day 1.
Day 2 started off with a visit to Hot Creek, an amazing thermal geyser. After checking out the awesome bubbling neon blue pools and witnessing some geyser eruptions, we were ready to hit the trails. We made our way along the trails to our second stop for the day, Crowley Lake. Once there, we took some group photos. Following the lake, we hit one of the most fun sections of trail for the weekend. This section started out by weaving in and out of the forest before eventually opening up to a flat out trail along the valley floor. After some incredible trail driving, we reached the Petroglyphs, where we stopped for a lunch break.
After lunch, we headed to the Red Canyon. We took advantage of a photo opportunity, taking pictures of the trucks as they hit the Red Canyon. Taking the Power Line trail, which was a highlight from last year’s trip, we discovered it to be a bit rougher than before due to all the rain throughout the year. However, we still had an absolute blast making our way through it. Following the Power Line trail, we had a short pavement drive to the next section of trails. Once we were back on the dirt, we weaved through the forest and up and down the mountain overlooking Mono Lake. Before exiting, we stopped at another overlook, which provided an awe-inspiring view of the Mammoth Valley. Once again, we took advantage of a great photo opportunity, taking some more group pictures.
Our last stop for the day was the Tufa Rocks at Mono Lake (unique rock formations on the Mono Lake shoreline). To get there, we took our scenic route. This route included a fun hillside drive that had a sand trap right on the hillside. This section made our hearts beat a little faster as we each slid down the trail. Following the cliff side slide, we hit the sand bunker. The only way out of this bunker was to put our feet to the floor and keep it there as we made the 90 degree turn that led out of the bunker. Once we all made it safely through all these thrilling challenges, we made the leisurely drive to the Tufa Rocks .
The final day of our Mammoth adventure consisted of a half day run and some more awesome sight seeing. Our first stop was at the Mono Crater to see the two former calderas. Following this stop was the Obsidian Dome, where our resident rock hound went rocky (you’ve probably never seen someone get so excited about rocks!). We then headed out onto our last section of fun trail which would take us to our final lunch stop. This section of trail weaved through the forest on the west side of the mountain. Just before exiting the trail, we had our only flat tire of the trip. We were able to change it out quickly and get back on the trail with minimal delay.
Before reaching our lunch destination, we had to wade through the only big water crossing of the weekend. The water was about 2.5 feet deep at its deepest point. All but one truck made it through without incident. The one truck that had issues went in a little too fast and soaked its air filter. Luckily, there was no damage done and after drying out the filter the truck fired back up with no issues.
All in all, this year’s Mammoth trip was another amazing adventure. All those who were able to participate had an incredible time and we are looking forward to planning another Mammoth adventure in the future. Hope to see you all then.