By Kim Stravers
It was short, this summer – a tease. Skiing in shirtsleeves through June and early July, we sunned ourselves on ridges, looking wistfully at the meadows and mountains beyond and wondering how long it would be before they’d grow wildflowers instead of rotten corn. It was August before the high country melted out enough for most of us to explore it in hiking boots and running shoes, and the aspens went gold within a few short weeks. Then, by November: winter.
If I’m not mistaken, it’s snowed every month of this year. But that hasn’t stopped a small, yet dedicated, group of people from expanding the terrific potential of our warm-weather trails and public lands. For the last three or four years, in fact, these folks have given up weekends and proper dinners to take a bird’s-eye look at Mammoth Lakes – not just the concrete that makes up “town,” but everything up to the edges of the Town’s Planning Area, some 125 square miles of public, private and municipal land. They’ve been hammering out user conflicts, considering how we recreate in the summertime as well as during the snowy months, walking the ground and literally staking out new trail alignments that, if implemented, could bring together existing bits and fragments into loops and continuous hikes, skis and rides for a full range of ages and ability levels. And more, of course – more than can fit in this space without turning this column into an inventory of successfully engaged opportunities and acronyms.
These individuals are our community. And the focus of their passion is the implementation of the Mammoth Lakes Trail System.
Nope, it’s not new; you use it all the time. Mammoth Rock Trail? Check. That portion of paved pathway on the east side of town, with the memorial benches and breathtaking overlook of the Sherwins and beyond? It’s in there. The unofficial spiderweb of trails that snakes through the Lakes Basin? Included. You run it, bike it, push strollers on it, braaap it, and chase your dog around it. You also curse it when the trail unexpectedly ends, become bored of riding the same out-and-backs, and wonder how sketchy it’ll be to send your customer for a spin around the labyrinth known as Shady Rest. But now, thanks to an ever-solidifying public/private/nonprofit partnership and a few blessed funding opportunities, these disconnected pieces of trail and open space that anchor us all to Mammoth Lakes are becoming something – something that finally has the opportunity to be the best alpine trail system in North America. In fact, you’ve already seen the beginnings of it through the new signage on the Lakes Basin Path – not to mention the path itself. But what is it? What is this “Mammoth Lakes Trail System”?
The work you’ve put in (and your patience) is about to really pay off. Check in with me next week to find out how…
Kim Stravers is the Development and Community Relations Director for the Mammoth Lakes Trails and Public Access Foundation (MLTPA). Learn more at www.mltpa.org . The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent policies and opinions of the staff or owners of the Mammoth Times. Reader response is encouraged. –MT