Reflections as the winter season packs a punch


It’s been a month since Opening Day and so far, the season has certainly packed a punch.

If you were in town the few weeks prior to Opening Day, you witnessed how the pace changes to a very excited, almost frantic behavior from all the local workers and business owners. 

There is nothing in a ski town quite like Opening Day, and this one had lots of expectations behind it (especially after last winter). Allow me to recap.

Main Lodge opener

Mammoth was blessed with some early fall snowstorms that put smiles on the faces of snow lovers all around. It brought out our beloved snowplows and they ran all around town getting back into the swing of things. 

It also created a great base of snow on the lovely peaks of Mammoth Mountain Ski Area.

The Mountain was busy preparing for the season. I was working my new job in the property management department, helping prep the building for guests. We had to finish the remodel of the ticket lobby and rental/demo centers.  There were walls to be painted and floors to be mopped.

We walked every hallway and scanned the ceilings and floors, checking every corner for cobwebs, dust, and critters.

“All hands on deck” is the motto in this type of scenario, and every department at the Mountain was on the same page.

We opened without a hitch, not to mention a storm rolled in that weekend.

There was lots of fun activities, events, concerts, and plenty of drinks poured as the winter kicked off.  You could hardly find a seat at the Tusks bar in Main Lodge.

CEO of MMSA Rusty Gregory came to the microphone for his opening day speech, paired with lots of free champagne for all who attended. Rusty spoke great words of hope and expectations that made us all feel proud to be a part of this great place. Inspired by the words of our co-rider and noble leader all of the enthusiastic crowd shouted and cheered, held there glasses high and drank happily the golden bubbles.

Three new beers

One of the coolest things I did in the last few weeks was joining the owners, brewers, and microbrew enthusiasts at the launch of three new beer creations from Mammoth Brewing Co. 

Owner Sean Turner and his crew held their great beer tasting event to kick off the new season. The three beers showcased that evening were paired with cheeses from Bleu, the local handcrafted food store.

The tasting room was packed with lots of familiar faces and fun stories, not to mention education about the beers.

I learned a lot about how they age the liquid gold in bourbon barrels to get that smoky oak flavor.  I also learned what an elderberry is.

Island Extravaganza

Canyon Lodge opened on Friday, Dec. 7, and it hosted the first big event of the season the next day: Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra’s Island Extravaganza.

It was a full house complete with Island décor, four-star food service, a Mirage of beautifully dressed participants, and music from down south. 

The raffle and silent auction was second to none and I couldn’t believe how cool some of the donations were.

It was a great way to start a new season at Canyon Lodge, and for a great cause, no less.

With the holiday season just around the corner, we are sure to see the smiles multiply, and the inches of snowfall start adding up. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to bust out your long johns and nitties, boil some water for cider, and watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas movies.

As for me, you’ll catch a glimpse of me out on the hill skiing or riding or down at the lodge with an après-ski cocktail. Feel free to say hi. See you there. Ciao…

Jonny Walker—and that’s his real, birth name—makes a living by teaching snowboarding, repairing mountain bikes, and guiding groups of adventure seekers down white water rapids. He’s also a passionate fine artist, and has a tan and black dog named Guinness. He may be contacted at His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of the Mammoth Times.