Archive for the ‘Eastern Sierras’ Category

Valentines in the Mountains

img_1759The adventure begins on the back of a sled attached to a snowmobile. I step on the grate and grip the bar as Brendan, an employee of Rock Creek Lodge, takes off into the woods. We wind through snow-covered Lodgepole Pine and over a running creek as a flurry of snowflakes drift down upon us. I look over to Joey and he’s got his mouth open to catch the snow.  The ride is over too soon. But our rustic cabin is perfect. It’s only 11am. Dinner is at 6.

The day unfolds before us: hikes through the woods, snacks of cold cuts and cheeses from Claros Italian Market, out loud reading Of Mice and Men, romantic sensual fun, a delicious nap, happy hour with red wine.

image1Early evening we walk hand in hand in a winter wonderland to the main lodge. We chat with other guests in the cozy den. Brendan uncorks and pours our wine without a service charge (although they do serve wine and beer). We adjournimg_1770 to the next room, sit down on long wooden tables and eat family style. The rosemary focaccia bread is divine dipped in balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The creamy red bell pepper soup that follows is only marginally beat by the honey sesame salad. (We’ll be recreating that dressing!) It’s all so damn good. Quinoa and pork loin with a reduced pinot and blueberry sauce rounds out the main course. Chocolate mousse with Kahlua ice cream follows. I’m served a dairy free coconut ice cream that reminds me how much I do miss this treat.

The other guests who are celebrating their 50th birthdays invite us to their cabin for a little party. This group of guys grew up on the same street in Eugene, Oregon since they were five. The camaraderie is infectious. Mike breaks out a guitar and passes out percussion instruments. We fall into a jam session illuminated by ambient light. As the night closes Joey and I stroll under the stars to our cabin in the woods.

fullsizerender1 Breakfast the next morning is yummy. Brendan offers to take our gear down on the sled and rents us cross country skis. We trek uphill a mile on groomed trail then overland through a foot of powder to Rock Creek Lake. The sun is warm on this bluebird day. Then it’s three miles downhill to the Sno Park on corduroy snow that img_1797sparkles, reflecting tiny rainbows. Snow coats drooping branches of the looming, bone straight pine trees like big white mittens. Wind lifts a fine layer of snow from the treetops and sends it swirling down in a mist of glitter. It’s only my second time on cross country skis so I’m not exactly graceful, but I am full of joy and childlike wonder at the beauty of this world.img_1774

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June Lake Brewing: The Brewery the Community Built

jlb-image-4Giving Back is the name of this game. Not just in December, but all year. Sarah & Justin Walsh of June Lake Brewing (JLB) understand this.

I grew up skiing June Lake Mountain so it was a great pleasure to interview the Walshes and discover why I love their beer so much! Yes, it’s hop-forward. I prefer the dank, sharp, crispness of Lil’ Walker IPA. It’s also because of the clear, sweet mountain water. And yet perhaps I think the most important ingredient is community.

Avid homebrewers who gained additional experience at San Diego breweries, Sarah and Justin enlisted their friends, who volunteered their time and energy to help build JLB with payment of beer or equity and the promise that any paying jobs would be reserved for residents of June Lake. They all stood behind an unwavering mission statement: 1. Make Super Awesome Beer™ (a term they have actually trademarked), 2. Give back to our community, 3. Get people outside.

“We had hundreds of hours volunteered by our friends and family to make JLB a reality,” Sarah recalls. “We’re the brewery the community built, we just happened to be the ones that organized and motivated everyone to do it.”

0509150735bJLB’s beer is the conduit to creating strong community and getting people outside. They volunteer and organize the summer Village Championship Downhill (mountain bike) Series and help with the annual June Lake Autumn Festival. JLB donates swag to over 21-year-old amateur athletes, gives beer to local, well-run non-profit organizations and provides topo maps and suggested day hikes pinned to the door. Open 365 days a year, JLB’s tasting room is as down-to-earth and authentic as its owner (Sarah) and head brew master (Justin). Professional and friendly outdoor athletes behind the bar easily share stories and tips on some of the best trails for snowboarding, hiking or rock climbing. Just across the parking lot from JLB, their friend Rena McCullough runs Ohanas395, a food truck serving up Hawaiian-style soul food that pairs perfectly with their brew.

1227151117a-2-21I love that if you want this exceptional beer, you’ll have to travel to 7,654-feet to get it.  The Walshes live by the most hard-fought, high-margin, localized business models for breweries: the tasting room model.

“Given our size and dedication to providing Super Awesome Beer™ we’re focused on a micro regional premium distribution strategy,” says Justin. “We are only in the best restaurants and finer tap houses within Mono County. Insisting on this quality ensures that our Super Awesome Beer™ will remain that way from the tank to the glass.  We refuse to distribute our beer outside our area because we would lose that control.  By limiting distribution to Mono County we’ve created a great reason for beer tourists to come visit!”

The snow is epic right now and there’s nothing better than a cold one after a day on the slopes. So, I’ll meet you in June Lake Village at JLB: the brewery the community built.

Room to be Wild Part I

Homework Assignment from Deep Storytelling and Archetypal Activism: Sketch out the issue to be addressed, describe how it has spoken to you imaginally, outline the response this calls for, and mention how such a project could transform you and the issue.

Derby Playhouse production of  A Midsummer Nights Dream.   ©Keith Pattison 5 Swinburne Place Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 6EA tel/fax 0191 2610884 mobile 07703 560871 vat no 605 6235 59 e mail:  mail@keithpattison.com

Derby Playhouse production of A Midsummer Nights Dream. ©Keith Pattison

PART 1

Our culture has lost its wildness. On the whole, we have lost the ability to feel the unfettered freedom and sense of belonging of a well-loved child. We have made nature dirty and a fearful place to be. And in doing so, we have squashed the most free-spirited aspects of our innate feral nature and in the same fell swoop cast ourselves outside of this veritable Garden of Eden. Without our wildness, it is difficult to access emotional honesty because such rawness must be contained as a rule of a dignified society. We cannot allow for the impulsive, unpredictable puckish

behavior inside, nor without. We condemn those who would take to wanderlust or spend days just being in naturally wild places. We have desecrated wild lands by covering them with asphalt and shopping malls and squeezed out the coyotes and rattlesnakes to make room for another subdivision. This sterile, linear civilization has become the mirror to our own taming and created a fear-based, trivial existence.

Comfort Creates Apathy

Millais_-_OpheliaWhen we strive for personal comfort and convenience in favor of connection and community we develop an apathetic indifference to the downstream effect of our actions. We pretend that we can cut the cords to our collective soul both from our ancestors and descendants. Even though this separation is imagined and not real, it is powerful enough to make it so that we cannot hear the voice in the wind or see the wisdom of the changing seasons as metaphors for spiritual awakening. We forget that the world is in constant communication with us and seek only to control and contain the mystery. We no longer know the phases of the moon or signs of impending rain or grow our own food. We no longer remember the power of one person or one act of positive thinking or connect to the value of tribe. The loss of our inner knowing that we belong to a loving, connected web of conscious souls in various forms whose lone purpose is to adamantly live the light of an individual spirit has plunged our society into a collective madness.

Announcing Mother Earth Creations

I just paid for my very first application to sell my wares (Mother Earth Creations – a consortium of ceramic mugs and bowls, mug trees, Goddess jewelry, organic bodycare and inspired mosaic art) at the Patchwork Show in Santa Ana. As soon as the mugs come of out the kiln, I’ll be at Company of Angels at Waldorf School of Orange County with mugs and bowls. Over Labor Day weekend teaching classes and selling moon bowls, books at Joyous Organics at the Northern California Women’s Herbal Symposium.
Below are the moon bowls for the symposium. They are to rinse reusable menstruation pads. It’s been so long that I’ve watered my plants regularly with my iron. : ) But this is all about a return to Spirit, my Spirit. I’m starting to prep for teaching over Labor Day Weekend Symposium: Womyn Meets Death  all levels  all ages and Living a Magick-full Life  young women  ages 13-20 (more on that in an upcoming blog).
blood bowls
I’m a little nervous and feeling vulnerable about selling my ceramics. Pottery was just going to be a diversion – something to keep me busy. I was so depressed and sad that my writing was not able to support me and my boys. It was a death that I put in league with losing my dad, grandpy, divorce, broken family and the lost chance for reunion with my bio-father. But I absolutely need to play with the muse, so I decided to play with clay and get down and dirty with myself. And look what I can make!!
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I glazed 18 pieces today, trimmed a bowl and threw five mugs and two bowls. When I first started I was happy to throw three bowls in the same session. Now this diversion has become a true expression of artistry and a way for me to play with Creativity Muse. I’m super excited, full of hope and desire. I’m feeling really good about being an artist. Really fulfilled with juicy living.  What peace that wheel brings me!!IMG_0788
And now, the time has come to share my work, my love made visible. Joey made this mug tree from a piece of wood we found on a burn site in the Eastern Sierras. I burned the sigil from my Native Name that Melinda gave me: Dancing Butterfly That Soars on the Wind. That beautiful necklace is made of jasper and amethyst. Sets or mix and match mugs will be sold with and without the tree. How cool is that?!
And I’m writing, writing, writing. It feels so good to be crafting stories again. What a beautiful world.

Local’s Guide to Mammoth

“The Mountains Are Calling and I Must Go”

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Photo Credit: Giuseppe Vicente First Snowfall 2015

These words by famous explorer John Muir greet the traveler upon entering Mammoth Lakes, California. Nestled in the Eastern Sierras, about 35 minutes south of the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Mountain is a world-class winter wonderland. This quaint alpine town at about 8,000 feet in elevation boasts a world renowned ski resort, more than 45 restaurants, live entertainment and plenty of cold weather activities such as, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snow shoeing, sledding and ice skating. Here are several insider tips on how to enjoy winter in Mammoth Mountain like the locals do.

Food & Drinks:

  • Groceries: If you didn’t bring your own food and need to plan for dinner, snacks etc…remember there is only one major grocery store in Mammoth, so plan ahead. Locals know to get to the store before 8am or before the slopes close at 4pm—and Friday’s steer clear if you can—as they are as packed as the SoCal freeways at rush hour. Natural food can also be found at Sierra Sundance Whole Food Market.
  • Coffee: Stellar Brew and Natural Café serves up fresh roasted coffee in a cozy, homespun atmosphere. They make foods from whole natural ingredients (including vegan and gluten free) and sell local crafts.
  • Breakfast: Good Life Cafe offers delicious comfort food that tastes like grandma made it.
  • Lunch: The Latin Market on Tavern Road offers the best authentic and inexpensive burrito in town.
  • Happy Hour: Locals favor the Outlaw Saloon for their weekly appetizer specials and pro game watching. Slocums offers reduced appetizers and a collection of signature cocktails.
  • Friday Nights: Most locals frequent Roberto’s for tasty Mexican fare. The chips are made from flour tortillas and are incredible fluffy and tasty. Upstairs sports a great view. Across from the north village and tucked downstairs, Clocktower Cellar has a great beer selection, 160 different whiskeys, a pool table and foosball table.
  • New: Bleu offers wine and craft beer tasting and an exquisite menu of farmstead cheeses, grass fed and wild game meats, sustainable seafood and freshly baked artisan bread.
  • Hidden Gem: Tom’s Place, located 20 minutes south of Mammoth, has been a local’s favorite for nearly 100 years. The setting of this fishing hot spot is rich with crusty character(s).
  • Beer: Mammoth Brewing Company offers a steady supply of staple and seasonal craft beer, made on-site, often with hops grown nearby. Growlers are half-off the first Wednesday of the month, and you can bring in a growler from your home town and have it filled up here.

Hitting the Slopes:

  • The locals get to the Main Lodge by 8am, to ensure a close parking spot, which doesn’t require lugging yourself, equipment and crew aboard the bus and you get ahead of the traffic both coming and going. It’s best if you can park at Chair 2 or 4 for the smoothest time.
  • The Mill at Chair 2 is a great spot for a quick snack or drink or just a chance to just rest and put up your feet.

Activities:

  • Sledding: The best free sledding can be had at the top of Deadman’s Summit off Hwy 395, just north of Mammoth Lakes.Woolly’s Ski Park is located on Highway 203 on the right heading to the ski resort that features a heated deck, tube lift, adult drinks and snacks.
  • Ice Skating: The Mammoth Ice Rink is awesome for outdoor skating.
  • Snowmobiling: Ride through the trees with either Snowmobile Adventures or DJs at Smokey Bear Flats.
  • Cross Country Skiing and Snowshoeing: Tamarack Lodge is your connection to experience the serene beauty of alpine lakes and ancient forests.
  • Gondola Rides: Check out stunning views at the summit of Mammoth at 11,053 feet.
  • Live Entertainment: The North Village features live music and a packed schedule.
  • Hot tubs: There is nothing better than soaking in the natural hot springs created by ancient volcanic activity. Check out themaps for directions. Be certain to be respectful of others in the tub, park a fair distance from the tubs and clean up after you leave.

Transportation

  • There is a free bus service to transport you throughout town running every 20 minutes throughout the day. There are five different bus lines with different stops and the hours vary depending on the line.
  • Driving to Mammoth: From SoCal, the least expensive gas is at Fort Independence, just north of the city of Independence, even includes a casino run by the local band of Native Americans. If you are traveling south into Mammoth, fuel up at Topaz Lodge. Highways 120, 89 and 108 are typically closed all winter. Road conditions change quickly, so be certain to have chains with you this winter, and know how to put them on as the chain installers may or may not be working. Have water and non-perishable food in the car as well. Drive 20-30 miles an hour in snowy conditions.
  • Flying to Mammoth: The airport is conveniently close to the city of Mammoth Lakes and easy to navigate. Make sure to check weather conditions as the plane will not land if the wind or viewing conditions are too severe and will return back to your original destination.

Dave Mc Coy, who turned 100 this year, brought his portable tow line to Mammoth Mountain in 1941 and opened the first chair lift in 1955. Mammoth now has more than 150 named trails and 28 lifts (includes 9 high speed quads, 2 high speed six-packs and 3 high speed gondolas).

A Long Walk Home

20150723_100417I’m climbing to the top of that mountain,” my daughter Ali said, her bright blue eyes staring fixedly at the peak. Inwardly I groaned, knowing that I would be hiking alongside her if that hike is what she wanted.

This specific peak would give us a breathtaking view of the Sierra Crest and a panorama of total wilderness without human habitation anywhere in sight.

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But I had been part way up that mountain and I knew it was daunting. Plus, I am in the process of deciding whether or not I like climbing mountains. I tend to find the thrill of talking about it afterwards with a beer at camp, more exciting than ascending or appreciating the view. It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but in my defense…. we did have a bitchen camp spot.

Since we had driven fourteen miles into the back country and not backpacked, we had luxuries such as a hammock, an EZ Up, coolers with ice, a solar powered shower.. it felt like frills of a high end hotel that we had all to ourselves surrounded by trees and wild open spaces.Ali and I flowers

But as I don’t see my girl often enough and must cram all my loving into a very short time, I led the way to Funnel Lake along a flat dirt road, easy and peaceful. 20150722_181129Beginning at 10,300 feet elevation, the uphill trek starts with a steep incline just passed the lake through a forest of piñon pines. So although your lungs begin to burn within five minutes, at least there is shade. Then comes the fully exposed slog through the talus field, where rocks that you thought were stable give way and you slip, like a cartoon character running in place and have to catch yourself, sometimes grabbing a black sagebrush or tiny juniper for stability.

“We can do this!” Ali said with the determination of a marathoner. About this time I started calculating how much older I was than her and making excuses for lagging behind.

I was carrying the backpack when Ali’s water bottle dropped. I watched it tumble down the 20 feet I had just climbed, “No!” I cried pitifully. I scooted down the rocks to retrieve the bottle and ripped open the pocket of my pants. As we scaled the bigger rocks, I gained on Ali and the poor girl had a view of my tush for the remainder of the climb. Not the day to gIMG_0038o commando.IMG_0034

Finally, after a 1,400 ft climb in about three-quarters of mile, we bagged Crystal Peak. We then admitted how often we had thought about giving up but didn’t want to let the other one down and laughed. Both of us were determined the sign the little piece of paper Skyler had signed last month. With big smiles we headed downhill for our beers.Ali

Twenty-four years ago, I opted to move to Chicago with Ali’s dad after college graduation rather than travel solo to Europe. Ali had been born three days prior to our first date. I always attributed this decision to a strong desire to heal the karma circle of an absentee father – I wanted to make sure her daddy stuck around, unlike my own. But since my assessment was off, I always felt deep regret for not crossing the Atlantic in the summer of 1991.

As Ali and I toasted each other back at camp, I realized with the awareness of a thunderclap that I skipped out on Europe for a totally different reason. I was meant to have this daughter, this beautiful young woman in my life forever. We were fated for each other. It was her all along. Now we’re planning a trip to Spain.. not sure how many peaks we’ll bag, but we will find the perfect tapas bar. Maybe we’ll even get some writing in.

Ali & I MaskedAli and I sitting