Mammoth Day Two

What a fun day in Mammoth we had yesterday.   After leisurely getting up and around, the boys and I went off to do some fishing at some of the local lakes.    Fishing is a good way to help teach the value of patience and we should have been doing this more often.  With my kid’s daily life of video games, hockey, skateboarding, bikes and all the other things that keep them buzzing with activity it was good to put things in the slow lane for a change.  We were all reminded that is called fishing and not catching.   


On several occasions we watched trout swim right below the rock were were perched on.   One even came up to the surface and gulped down a bug that just landed on the water. 

I was really stoked when my boys not only got to see a Bald Eagle but also watched it swoop down and pluck a trout right out of the water.  The eagle then landed on an dead tree nearby and proceeded to scarf down the trout.

While all Bald Eagles are big birds this was not a huge eagle like the one I saw in Anacortes, Washington earlier this year.   One thing is for certain I was so stoked that my boys got to have such an awesome nature experience without having to turn to the Discovery channel.

My mid-afternoon we decided to cut the fish some slack and headed back to the condo.   Looking at the clock we realized we had enough time to catch a gondola ride up the mountain.  Jake and Casey had some shopping on thier to-do list so Will and I suited up and headed out for a run down the mountain.  Will has been bucking to do some of the more difficult trails on the mountain.   I was also looking forward to some of the more technical and feature/stunt oriented trails as well but at the same time the Dad in me has been apprehensive about putting Will in over his head.  

After talking with some folks I decided to test Will out on the black diamond upper section of “Skid Marks”  that starts off right off the top of the mountain.    Will did quite well through the rocky bits and switchbacks, but did take a minor “soil sample”.   He did have all of the protective gear on so he did not even get a scratch.   I did find that following my son through the technical and semi-exposed sections made my riding more difficult as my brain kept switching back and forth between mountain-biker and dad mode.      

Once I realized that Will’s bike handling skills have been improving significantly I found that I was able to spend more time riding with him as a fellow mountain biker and and less as a protective father.  After Skid Marks we took the more intermediate trails of Paper Route and Juniper down the mountain and enjoyed some great swooping and flowing singletrack goodness down the mountain.  

The late afternoon light was really nice and colors of the mountains were starting to go off.   We stopped a couple of times just to take in the views.  Will has always enjoyed the thrill of riding but I think something may have clicked this afternoon about intrinsic value of experiencing the scenery and of the overall outdoor experience beyond simply the enjoyment of riding the bike.

Whistle Lake Goodness

Saturday I ventured north to check out the Whistle Lake area of the Anacortes Community Forest Lands.  I had been to the Cranberry Lake area the week before and I was ready to check out some more of the goods in Anacortes.

Man there was some fun single track out by Whistle Lake but there are no freebies.  You have got to earn them.   The good news is what goes up must come down.    The number of trails in this area is simply bewildering and it is hard to go more than a third of mile without having a trail junctions to think about.

While on one of the trails near the top of “Sugar Cube”  I had an incredible critter encounter.    As I rounded a corner a bald eagle flew up from the trail where it had recently whacked some small furry critter and had it for lunch.   It flew up into a nearby tree and started checking me out. 

While it looked concerned with me a first, it soon seemed to figure out that I meant it no harm and seemed rather comfortable with my presence.   Over the next five minutes I would go through a series of snapping pictures and moving a little closer until it decided it had better things to do.    

This eagle is bigger than it looks.  I’m guessing that those talons if out stretched would be about the size of an average man’s hand.  Simply impressive.

An hour or so later in the ride I would once again have another cool critter encounter.  This time it was with a spotted owl and the sequence of events was similar to that the eagle. 

I love checking out the “Back 40” wherever I go.  On this day that looked to be the south side of the lake.  The trails over here were much steeper and trickier with more roots and rocky sections.

It would be a really big feat to ride all of the stuff in a single day as it takes multiple loops of climbing to the top of several hills that can work the legs over really well. 

I did as many climbs up the hills as I could stand and still did not get to all of the trails.  I finished the day with my legs thoroughly shot and a big smile on my face.