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Rare treats

June 1, 2012

A remarkable intersection of events in the Big Wide World happens this week in Mammoth, spanning backyard politics, athletic prowess and instellar space.

All of them are worth our attention. We live in such a unique place that it is easy to take it for granted. Here are just some of the reasons why we should not:

• The Drop-In. Jeremy McGhee is a superior athlete. At one time, he was a superior surfer, until an accident took away the use of his legs. He is to try an ascent of Bloody Couloir this weekend, via wheelchair, and a descent on skis.

We ourselves have had the opportunity to be on snow with McGhee and it was a pure pleasure. It’s like being in a documentary.

Last weekend, gnarly weather and a rock-ice-snow slide took away his first shot at the couloir. Tomorrow (Saturday) might be his last attempt until next year. Our hats are off to him. Our wishes for his success are sincere.

• The Election. While there is deafening silence in Mammoth Town Council elections (there is no contest for two open seats), the seven candidates for the Mono County Board of Supervisors have turned in some really good rough-and-tumble races.

Their issues are gold mining, economics, tourism, you name it. Now it’s the citizens’ turn. The elections are on Tuesday. Everyone should vote. They gave us their best and they deserve the same from us.

• The Wilderness. It is a breathtaking thing what the crews of the National Forest Service—and dozens of volunteers—are doing in clearing away the unimaginable mess in Red’s Meadow Valley, the result of last November’s wind-driven treefall.

The forest would recover on its own, over the next several decades, but for those of us who love the area, that’s not soon enough. The through-hikers on the Pacific Crest and John Muir trails are appreciative, too.

One of these days, a documentary series like NOVA should get into this phenomenal event—both the windstorm that uprooted tens of thousands of trees, and the efforts by those who make this gorgeous spot accessible so quickly after the fact.

• The Venus Transit. Our advice is to use the special eyewear that people used to view the solar eclipse (a couple of weeks ago) to witness such an awe-inspiring event as this one. It will happen in the late afternoon and evening Tuesday, and our clear skies will, as usual, befriend us.

Venus will “transit” the sun for the last time until 2117, joining the ranks of the handful of planetary transits that have occurred since the dawn of modern astronomy. From our vantage point on Earth, we occasionally have the chance to see two planets—Venus and Mercury — pass in front of the sun, as these are the only two planetary bodies between us and our star.

Transits of Mercury are more common than Venus transits, with an average of 13 occurring each century. Venus transits come in pairs separated by eight years, with more than a century usually elapsing between one pair and the next.

There is all the other stuff, too, with hiking trails beginning to open all over the place, the bike park in first gear, the Olympians scampering about, and so on.

All of it is worth our (happy) attention.

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