Day 19: Monday, June 21: Mammoth Lakes to Hot Springs near Mammoth Lakes

I got over to the bike shop after stopping at the hardware store for some aluminum strip to fix my rear rack. Brian at the bike shop (called Footloose) let me use his tools to fabricate a new bracket. Soon I had everything together.

I bought a new paperback book (donating the ones I'd read to the county library), then had lunch at a pizza place. I started talking to two young women there, and they told me about some geothermal hot springs not too far out of town. They said I could camp there for free. Since my legs were still pretty tired from three days of climbing, I thought that that sounded like a good idea.

Shortly (the trip was all downhill), I was on the road to the hot springs. But unfortunately, the springs were too hot to get in, and the land was posted with NO CAMPING signs. Then I met a group of people who told me about some more hot springs with free camping nearby. I found this (only another 1-2 miles along a dirt road), and decided to take a dip in the springs. I had to walk a couple of minutes from where I left my bike, and then saw a naked guy in the springs, surrounded by a lot of cows. As I approached, the cows stampeded out of there. I guess I looked pretty scary. The locals had actually built a concrete tub along the spring run, and it was at just the right temperature. I soaked (ecstacy!) and talked to Jake, who was living in town.

Soon I was completely relaxed, and went back to my bike to set up a camp. There were wide grassy areas all around, perfect for setting up a tent.
One shot
Another shot
View from inside the tent, with me too
View from inside the tent

This proved to be an excellent place to camp. I went back to the springs around sunset, and met Mike, who was on vacation, doing hiking and mountain biking, and was camped somewhere near. Watched the gorgeous sunset over the mountains while soaking in the hot springs. I wished I had my camera with me, but wasn't about to walk back and get it.

Later, I met Valerie, who was in her 40's but looked much younger, and her dog, who was two and looked it. We talked and soaked while her dog ran madly about, disturbing the birds nested on the ground nearby.

Went to sleep finally, after making it so my ground cloth didn't rustle so much in the wind. I woke in the middle of the night after the moon set, and marveled at the dark sky filled with stars. The Milky Way was a bright band going across the sky.