I honestly thought that Mammoth Mountain would unfold itself magically in front of me as a carpet of wildflowers, meadows and riverside trails as Yosemite had when I was a kid. I didn’t realize I would have to look for it or that when I was a kid my dad had planned it for me.
It’s the oddest sort of logic to take your suburbanite kid out to the wilderness and ask him where he wants to go.
We headed for June Lake because that’s where my dad first taught me to ski and I had never been there in the summer. (It was probably the plan of my subconscious all along.) I pointed out the ski lift rising up the steep incline to the main lodge that had tormented me when I was nine years old, as I was absolutely terrified of heights.
We drove out to June Lake and found a small rocky cove where we could hang out alone. I pulled out In the Time of Butterflies, an honors English book assigned to Jeff and a book I’ve always wanted to read ever since I wrote Latino Writers & Journalists and fell into adoration with Julia Alvarez’s courage and perhaps even idolized the feminist heroic struggle against the Trujillo regime. Once again I dreamed of being a literary writer.
I got sunburnt. Kobe tried to fish with a found hook and some wire, and later clamored over rocks. We spent three hours in bliss.
We drove into town and got marginal coffee drinks and less than marginal directions for a hike. Then we tried Devil’s Postpile, but the road was closed. Instead we walked a trail in sight of the Minarets, mountains climbed by some bold souls that I almost understood, rather than simply people of another world. We did yoga breathing to help Kobe through his altitude sickness and talked about climbers who ascend Mt. Everest without oxygen.
We reached a meadow and instantly I felt the presence of bears and turned heel without telling Kobe why, heading back for the car in quick step. Never question instinct in the wild I told Kobe once safely back at camp. “That would be unbearable,” he replied.
Kobe road his penny skate board while I walked into town to get an ice cream. Later we fell asleep in our sleeping bags holding hands. But not before Kobe told that me thanks for a great day and aside from his best friend Noah, I am the person he confides in most.