Photographs and Text © Todd Bigelow
The drive up US 395 to Mammoth Lakes along the eastern edge of the Sierra Mountains is one I’ve done so many times that I’m convinced I could do it by sound alone. Roll down the windows and point the Subaru north and there’s little doubt I could tell you where I was by the sounds blasting through the window.
As a small child I made the journey in the iconic family wagon facing backward while watching the city turn to desert and eventually to mountains. Despite little change in scenery over the decades, I have never dreaded the trek which easily exceeds a hundred and more likely a couple hundred journeys. For reasons that somewhat escape me, each trip seems unique and exciting. I just don’t tire of looking at Mt Whitney or grow bored with the quaint towns that herald the approach to my home away from home; Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine and Bishop. Each has their distinct look and serve as a reminder to how much longer until you hit the 203 turnoff into Mammoth.
I’m fortunate that my work as a photographer has also brought me to the area. I’ve spent time shooting Olympic athletes on training missions and the opening of trout fishing season for Sports Illustrated and had my work lead a piece on family vacations for National Geographic Traveler.
But I don’t need an assignment to draw me north. From Mammoth Lakes to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, and from Lone Pine to June Lake and beyond, the eastern Sierras just draw me to them for their sheer beauty and outdoor lifestlye. Fishing, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, mountain biking, running or just a relaxing stroll on the Mammoth Town Loop Bike Path as the sun dips toward the horizon is enough to pull me up 395. The colors of Fall, the serenity of Winter, the awakening of Spring or the long days of Summer……all are reasons to head north.
But who needs a reason anyway?