With workplaces as well as outdoor activities closed during the pandemic, people are literally tucked into their homes for safety. Still, humans are after all a social animal, we need the outdoors, we need the joy that comes from not just our families, but also from relationships with our friends, we need to get out of the confined environments. It is interesting how even the most introvert of people have found these times restricting. Even though vaccines are soon going to be available to all Californians, the light at the end of the tunnel is still very bleak. But, at least it exists, and it is visible.
■ Interestingly, these times have also shown proof that people are not just happy and content spending their time with digital gadgets. We have seen an influx of people walking in parks, hiking in the mountains and finding innovative ways to enjoy the outdoors. It is curious that, while we always look at interesting places to travel to, many times, other than the obvious ones, we skip some local attractions or minimize them in our minds.
There are a variety of neighborhood treasures hidden, overlooked sometimes and ready to be discovered. We will consider an interesting location in Northern California, especially the San Francisco Bay Area - The Mammoth Lakes.
There are the world famous Yosemite national parks and Lake Tahoe, where you can take in the absolute wonder of the gorgeous valley. But, there are lesser known locations like the Mammoth Lakes in the mountains of the Sierra.
This place has beauty everywhere you look, in the many gigantic mountains that look like shining crystals in the sun, the spread out gorgeousness of the valley and the sheer number ( approximately 50) of large and small lakes. This is where it derives its name - the Mammoth Lakes. This is the place that you have read of in the works of the classic poetry books, and you really have to see and experience it to comprehend the beauty of this place.
Interestingly, you could visit this place in any season. Every season has something unique to offer.
■ Spring is lush green in the valley, but the mountains still wear a white snowy hat at the very tips hinting at the just passing winter, with sparkling falls and lakes flowing merrily. You can go hiking on the rocky slopes as the sun rises, and come to relax on the beaches of the lake later in the day. There are so many trails to enjoy the valley, the wildlife, the lush and unique foliage and flowers springing all around you. These hikes will offer you beautiful vistas with wildflowers blooming all around the valley. There are all the traditional activities to do - water activities like fishing, boating, kayaking, and land activities like biking, snowshoeing, skiing and snowboarding in some still frozen lakes and mountain areas, hiking of course, and just plain sightseeing.
■ Summer is so much fun with outdoor camping and mountain bike rides for the adventurous. You could also take a boat to the middle of the lake and peacefully enjoy fishing for trout. The snow has melted even on the top of the mountains this time of the year. Temperatures are usually very nice and comfortable 70s to sometimes hot 80s, 90s, the latter being rare. Those who love mountain climbing, this is the time to do it. Backpacking, hiking, even golfing, you can enjoy it all. Water activities are in abundance to cool off and enjoy with the clear lakes and their warm waters.
■ Fall brings the colors, just like a painting on a canvas. The days are still warm, but nights get cool. The vistas are breathtaking with rich oranges and reds and purples, you feel blessed to be witness to such awe-inspiring work of art by nature.
■ Winter brings with it cooler temperatures and even cooler colors. Snow coats the top of the mountains, the lakes and the trails. Fun filled activities with family and friends like snowballing, skiing, sledding, tubing, snowmobiling and snowboarding during the day followed by a hot cuppa and toasted marshmallows around the firepit in the evening makes it magical.
There are many locations that should just never be missed in any season, but especially in the summer, some of them offer stunning views.
There is the Mono Lake, a large lake with sprawled blue waters as far as the eye can see. But, there is something more interesting about this lake. It has rocks rising from the bottom of the lake and standing as tall as 5-6 feet above the surface. These are limestone deposits in a unique pattern forming towers over the lake.
Another interesting vista in the Mammoth Lakes town is the Devils Postpile National Monument. Huge piles of basalt rocks rising up from the ground, forming tall and big columns, forming a mountain in itself, is a sight to behold. As you hike up the two mile pathway lined by these rocky and scenic mountains, there is total destruction around you. Trees burned and fallen,( whatever the cause, natural destruction or humanly created) form a bizarrely enchanting view.
As you climb up the path lined with this graveyard of trees and rocky columns reaching for the skies, another mile or two leads you to the Rainbow Falls. One of the largest falls, with white frothy water falling at great speeds, these falls create many colors in the mist that surrounds you, creating a rainbow...hence the name - Rainbow Falls.
If you explore some more around the area, you will realize that the area is rich in minerals. There are so many lakes spread around, on top of these, you will find hot springs. Some heavy with sulfur, and boiling hot; you can even smell the sulfur, it's so strong. Of course, there are other milder warm springs too. Soak in there to feel your body rejuvenate.
Some not-so-obvious (yet, not really hidden) extra locations to enjoy before we leave you
The world also knows the Bay Area as the Silicon Valley, which boasts of innovations in technology and business, career opportunities, home to several tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and universities like Stanford University, UC Berkeley, etc.. The beautiful campuses of these companies and universities are worth a see. You will not be allowed indoors, but many outdoor areas are open for visitors and you can enjoy the architecture, especially now, when the buildings are pretty much empty.
Walking along the long, wide stretch at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, allows you to not only see some much needed human faces during these times, but you can also enjoy the soothing Pacific winds. There are tons of viewpoints to stop and enjoy the vistas, or enjoy a hobby like photography or this can be used as an opportunity to enjoy with your beloved pets.
Drive along the Golden Gate Bridge, follow the path to a small, quaint and beautiful town of Tiburon. There is another, small town called Sausalito lining the Pacific coast, and is breath-taking and absolutely worth the visit.
Enjoy and don't forget to share your experiences and photographs at Wander!
Share on social
More from Wander
Subscribe to Wander newsletter and get our "Making new friends on the road" guide