Do you have somewhere you care about so much that when you get there it feels more like home then your actual home? Well I do... Its a little camp ground somewhere off the 395 near Mammoth Lakes, CA.

This past weekend my family and I made our annual road trip up to this amazing place in INYO National Forest. My parents have been taking me here since I was 6 months old. Over the years of visiting and making so many memories I feel as though I have memorized every inch of this place along with the sounds and smells that it brings. For example the way the wind almost sings as it brushes through the valley. The fresh air and pine smell that seems to just settle on you as you head off on the hiking trails. The sound my truck makes as it idles through the gravel road of the camp ground. This year the anticipation was incredibly intense for me leading up to this trip for a couple of reasons.

First the past couple months have been wearing me down from just the normal business of life and responsibilities of being a business owner. I was tired and ready to go "Home". I haven't actually been able to enjoy a good camping trip to this spot since my wife Jaime and I got married in 2015. I found myself craving the sounds, sights and smells of this place as the trip was approaching.

Second - I have spent my life dreaming of taking my bride and future kids to this place to hopefully make our own memories as the years go on. So with our first child on the way I thought... this is the year to introduce the wife and the in-laws to this place that is so special to me. So we planned it out and everyone was on board. I faced some nervousness in preparation for this trip as I didn't know how they would feel about it and if they didn't enjoy it, what would that mean for my dreams of bringing my own family here in the future?

Third - As you may know this has been an incredibly sad year for forest fires and there happened to be one pretty close by. This brought up some obvious concerns for camp/road closures as well as air quality.

Nevertheless we headed out on our adventure Thursday around noon. As routine we sat in LA Traffic and muscled through... I knew once we hit the 395 my nerves would settle. And they did... As soon as we hit lone pine we were greeted by some magnificant sunlight and rays that poured over Mt Whitney and the surrounding peaks. Right then I knew this was going to be a great weekend.

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We ended up arriving late Thursday evening just at sundown. As we neared the Mammoth Lakes area we were greeted by a thick smoky haze. This definitely raised some uncertainty as we descended into the valley where the smoke had all seemed to be resting. After setting up camp in the dark and enjoying a quick campfire we all decided to call it a night and hope for the smoke to clear over night. 

Whenever I visit this place I usually rise well before the sun and hike to the lake to watch sunrise each morning. It never fails - every morning there is a foggy mist that rests over the glassy water before the sun and wind pick up at day break. I usually spend the morning with a line in the water watching the fish jump and when I am lucky enough I’ll watch the Bald Eagles hunting for their morning meal.  On this particular morning I spent the morning enjoying watching some magnificent light illuminate the smoky haze. Ironically in this situation something so destructive created something incredibly beautiful. After sunrise the breeze picked up cleared the smoke and haze from the valley. We were left with fresh air and beautiful blue skies. This was it, I told myself... I’m finally home.


Whenever I visit this place I usually rise well before the sun and hike to the lake to watch sunrise each morning. It never fails - every morning there is a foggy mist that rests over the glassy water before the sun and wind pick up at day break. I usually spend the morning with a line in the water watching the fish jump and when I am lucky enough I’ll watch the Bald Eagles hunting for their morning meal.

On this particular morning I spent the morning enjoying watching some magnificent light illuminate the smoky haze. Ironically in this situation something so destructive created something incredibly beautiful. After sunrise the breeze picked up cleared the smoke and haze from the valley. We were left with fresh air and beautiful blue skies. This was it, I told myself... I’m finally home.

The lake after the smoke and haze lifted.

The lake after the smoke and haze lifted.

Overall the weekend was just incredible. What I did learn this weekend is camping is a little bit different for everyone. I have always seen it as an opportunity to get off the grid, away from civilization and just enjoy the beauty and simplicity of nature. If that’s you, you would love this place. For some it may be a little too far away from the nearest Starbucks. I’m not sure my in laws will be joining us here again but my incredible wife is up for it... Which leaves me excited to say my next visit will be with our baby girl in 2019.