Hipcamp Journal

Camping and Skiing: A Fourth of July Tradition

Photo via Mammoth Mountain Facebook Page.

As you may have noticed, California got absolutely slammed with snow this winter. It’s an incredible thing when your basic standard for snowfall measurement becomes feet instead of inches. As early as February, Squaw Valley and Mammoth already released plans to be open July 4th, and thanks to over 700-inches of snowfall in the Tahoe area, you can ski all summer long at Squaw into next season. That is, as we pretty much only say in the ski world, “sick.”

Let me just put this simply: I love skiing. Resort skiing, backcountry skinning, powder days, spring corn, the last bits of summer slush—I’d ski any goddamn day of the year if I could. While summer is mostly spent in search of the next best campsite (I also really love camping), last year I was lucky enough to combine three of my favorite things – camping, skiing and the Fourth of July – all in one beautiful, spontaneous weekend.

While a lot of this magic of my weekend at Mammoth came through spontaneity, here's what I can tell ya:

1. Fill your backpack with beers and speakers

On our first day of skiing that weekend, we took a break between runs to crack open some cold ones on the gondi deck. We had brought portable speakers, something that I honestly never do when I’m riding the resort, but we were celebrating American Independence—the mountain was open for a party.

San Diego crew!

The speakers ended up being the key to unlocking the whole weekend. While blasting Led Zeppelin, a group of rad as hell snowboarders from San Diego approached our jam session. Not only were these guys awesome, they frequented the area for climbing and riding and keyed us into the local spots—the best breweries, secret hot springs, free campsites and other stuff to do around the area.

2. Start every day at Stellar Brew and Natural Cafe

This place has hands down the most bomb breakfast sandwiches of all time and is only a few minutes from the mountain. Seriously. I didn’t eat eggs for 20 years before trying a bite of one of these bagel-crack creations.

3. Respect your elders in the gondi

We met lots of characters that weekend—from our San Diego homies to CEO Bill (the ringleader of the Squaw Valley Tie-Dye club), the mountain was teeming with friendly faces. I’ll never forget the words of wisdom from Dan and Woody, the 60+ year-old bubble-blowing skiing gurus who would drop serious knowledge in the gondola before dropping into a sketchy, but skiable rock field on Climax. These dudes were most definitely on another level.

4. Ask the locals and explore the area

Last year there was admittedly only a few patches of snow to shred on the mountain, but we heard tales of how a few seasons before the entire mountain was open for play. Given this year’s snowpack, there’s a high chance you’re looking at quite a bit of terrain still skiable come July.

However, if you don’t want to ski the whole time, there’s lot of other ways to play around Mammoth—beautiful hikes, hot springs, alpine lakes with epic rope swings. I’ll save back some of the details though…the best part about exploring a new area is opening yourself up to the people and possibilities that will take you there!

Per a recommendation, we camped out one night on some BLM land by Grant Lake (below). We awoke on July 4th some of the stillest water I’ve ever seen. I kid you not, pretty much immediately after the picture on the left was taken, a bald eagle flew over our heads. That’s some America sh*t right there.

5. Let your (freak) flag fly.

Nothing says "FREEDOM!" like skiing in red, white and blue bikinis at Mammoth on the Fourth of July, trust me. It’ll be impossible to forget the gondola ride of your life blasting Led Zeppelin (theme artist of the weekend) with a bunch of American-clad strangers before making some turns under the summer sun, all while double fisting PBRs.

Happy birthday, America.

Night Hiking the Desolation Wilderness

Julie Kukral is a writer and creative currently based out of Jackson, WY with roots in Connecticut, Colorado and California. You can follow her adventures on Instagram.

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