RAMBLINGS FROM THE FILS OF A PAPER SON: Mammoth
By BILL YEE
I recently went to June Lake with my brothers-in-law, my nephew and Lisa’s cousin’s husband and their son. For many JAs, Mammoth and June Lake are family vacation destinations and a summer tradition shared by generations.
It’s as much an annual tradition in Japanese-American families as it is going to Nisei Week or playing CYC basketball.
My motivation for this trip was to discover Mammoth not only with the adults but with my four year old nephew Willie, for whom it was his first fishing trip!
My first experience with the Mammoth Lakes area dates back to 1984 when Lisa’s Uncle Hiro introduced me.
On this trip we fished Gull Lake in a boat but only caught one fish. Uncle Hiro told me that fishing teaches patience. I had a good time because he made me discover the region.
I had never fished in the Sierras before and I was impressed by the postcard beauty of the different lakes. After this trip, I was hooked! (voluntary pun)
Our family goes there as often as possible. In many of our tours we did more fishing than catching (ha! Ha!). I also went to Mammoth with our annual church meeting and also organized a scout camp in Mammoth.
Fishing is a great place to bond with extended family, friends, church members and Boy Scouts. You forget to answer that email or phone call or whatever else you need to take care of in a normal work day. There is almost a Zen quality when you cast your first line of the day.
Nothing compares to getting up early and enjoying the sunrise over a beautiful lake while drinking a cup of coffee and watching the fish jump out of the water.
Hopefully this will be the day you catch your limit or at least catch a fish. You might also want to grab a big one so you can put your pic in it The Rafou! (ha! ha!) But that doesn’t really matter… it’s the quiet fellowship you share with your family and friends that is the real blessing.
Children discover nature up close and personally. I think those who have been to Mammoth have encountered a bear or two and seen all kinds of wildlife that cannot be seen in the city.
On this last trip we saw a group of deer feeding in the bushes behind us at Silver Lake. On the lake, a family of ducks squeaked as they passed.
While fishing it can be quiet at times, but you will ask people nearby, “Bites? You can shout at a passing boat, “Do you catch fish?” “
Once you’re hooked on fishing meaning you’ve caught a few fish in the years you’ve been on the trip, now you need to buy more fishing tackle. It’s like winning a jackpot in Vegas on your first visit, but you end up making it to the casino looking for another jackpot.
In no time, your tackle box is filled to the brim. There you might find various lures “guaranteed” to catch fish, various varieties of strong bait, salmon eggs and even a box of live worms. You are obsessed with having the best rod and the best reel!
Food and drink always tastes great in the mountains, whether you’re cooking your own or heading into town and having that rib-based breakfast at the Breakfast Club.
On the way back, you need to make a stop at Bishop at Schat’s Bakery to buy bread or other goodies for family and friends and maybe a sandwich for lunch. Always crowded but the smells are incredible.
You can also take this first trip to Manzanar, just for the kids to learn a bit about the trials and tribulations their grandparents / great-grandparents went through. For those who have never been, this is definitely an interesting stopover whether on the way to or on the way back from Mammoth.
Coming down the hill, it’s like leaving a sanctuary, where you’ve had a few days to unwind in the beautiful Eastern Sierras. Now it’s back to the reality of everyday life. Uncle Hiro told me that during those few days in Mammoth he would feel good but he was sad as he walked down that hill towards Bishop.
Nevertheless, we are blessed to have such a sanctuary so close to us.
Bill Yee is a retired history teacher from Alhambra High School. He can be contacted at [email protected] The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.