We started out the day on the lower mountain, riding the tech trails like Chain Smoke and Techno Rock to get acquainted with the new dirt. After getting warmed up, we took the gondola all the way to the top, at 11,500 feet of elevation. The wind was howling as we dropped in on Skid Marks for some epic singletrack back down to the mid point of the mountain. Jagged rocks jutted out of the trail and tight switchbacks made for some epic fun and roosting. We also took the opportunity to hop up on the unmelted snow, sliding around and laughing uncontrollably before dropping into a steep loose hill that we could carve from left to right while kicking up massive amounts of dust. Once we’d had our fill of tech, we lapped the jump trails, trading off leading to see who could get the nastiest whip. Needless to say when the mountain closed at 5 o’clock that first day, the stoke was high and we were pooped.
Just because the lifts close down doesn’t mean the fun is over though. We swapped out our riding gear for swim trunks, and hopped in the truck to drive out to the hot springs. Located a few miles off the highway down a dirt road, the hot springs are a must. The region is rich with geothermal activity, and there are several hot and cold springs in the area that make for great secret spots to soak yourself after a long day in the park. Tucked in an empty field with nothing but a couple of cows and the Sierra mountain range surrounding you on all sides, the idyllic Wild Willy’s hot springs are something out of a post card. Yeah, this beats going to any bar in town. When the sun finally set, we reluctantly dragged ourselves out of the springs and back into town for a burrito at Roberto’s. Showing up at 9 o’clock is the only way you’ll actually get a table without an hour wait at this killer Mexican joint. Even if you do have to wait, the smothered and fully loaded burritos the size of your head are still worth it. If you’re smart, you’ll save half to eat for lunch the next day.
We woke up on day two and headed into town for the best breakfast place around. If you know The Stove, you know. It’s hard to beat home cooking in a tiny cabin style house that serves up killer biscuits, muffins, omelets and pretty much anything else you could ask for. Our personal favorite, the Sierra Sunrise, is a skillet filled with griddled hash browns, veggies, eggs, cheese and ham. If you still have room after breakfast, the pies are pretty damn stellar too. After stuffing ourselves, we hit the hill.
Our day started with a bang as we ripped the jump trails straight away. Once we’d logged our sky miles for the day, we swapped out the jumps for more of the rocky delicacies. Things were going well until Marshall took a nasty high speed fall that left him with shredded shorts, a scratched goggle lens, a broken GoPro case and a helmet that looked like it got thrown off a cliff. The call was made to clean up and keep riding, since we were both having far too much fun to stop. Apparently my clean kit was jealous because I overcooked my line on the very next run. I sent it into a rock garden and the next thing I knew, I was sailing over the bars and headed for a rendezvous with a granite slab. When I put my hand out to catch my fall, I heard that awful “snap” no one ever wants to hear as my right hand rolled over on itself.