More photos here!
Many experiences are worth repeating on this trip (luckily!) and the Westin in Mammoth was certainly one of them. As we were celebrating our 14th wedding anniversary, we treated ourselves to two nights in a Heavenly Bed and dinner out at The Tamarack Lodge. Both proved to be as exceptional as our first experience of them.
These two nights involved a lot of sitting in a Jacuzzi, gorging on NY style bagels from The Old New York Deli & Bagel Company and dogs sleeping on their own Heavenly Dog Beds. But we did do one hike: Up from Horseshoe Lake (half dry) to Mammoth Pass (not as scenic as you might imagine) and over to Lake McCleod (gorgeous.) A short hike day, but enough exercise to completely enjoy an entire bottle of wine during dinner!
Having eaten fresh-caught trout every night since we arrived in the valley, we ignored all the fish options on the Tamarack Lodge menu and opted for Venison Osso Buco and Angus Ribeye. Delicious. And prepared by someone else. And cleaned up by someone else. (And, let’s face it, killed by someone else.) A perfect treat.
But soon enough we were ready to hit the open road; we hitched up Salt (the Westin graciously allowed us to park her in front of their hotel in the Valet Only area) and drove a whopping 20 miles back south on 395 to McGee Creek.
The USFS McGee Creek Campground is lovely, each pitch with a built in shade shelter and asphalt pitches!! Yahoo! I forgot the thrill (and cleanliness) of having Salt perched on asphalt rather than dirt. The creek behind the campground is a lovely fishing area (even better than Rock Creek in my opinion) with a lot of pools and, now, a few less fish (Alan, of course, caught dinner each night.)
We hiked up McGee Creek Trail which was enjoyable for its incredibly colorful mountains (rivaling those found in the Artists Palette in Death Valley) as well as the fall leaves. Sadly, the trail did not follow along the creek as we had hoped and it was terribly hot. So we kept it a short two miles in and out.
The next day we upped the ante heading up Convict Lake Trail and attempted to make it to Mildred Lake. After about four miles of a gentle but constant climb and a half mile of scrambling straight up over rocks, we threw in the towel. No Mildred Lake for us. The best views on this hike are about one mile passed the trailhead at the back of Convict Lake. So stop there if you are after a scenic hike and not a strenuous one. We figured our total hiking mileage to be over eight miles that day. Rosco did about half of that (which is great for him.)
Next stop is the June Lake area; despite having been up and down Highway 395 numerous times in our past, we have never even driven the June Lake Loop. Here goes!