Local Sergio Gonzalez Shares Tips for Enjoying His Backyard

Meet Mammoth Lakes local Sergio Gonzalez, who’s been living the mountain life since 2013. Sergio shares some of his favorite parts about Mammoth Lakes — the big, beautiful backyard he calls home.

How long have you lived in Mammoth Lakes?

Sergio moved to Mammoth Lakes in September 2013. He’s just come up on his six-year Mammoth-aversary, and he’s gone from a beach bum to a mountain man.

What brought you to Mammoth Lakes?

Gonzalez and his (now ex) wife visited Mammoth Lakes on their honeymoon. They had both run in Mammoth Lakes when they were on the track team at Cal State San Marcos, so they planned a road trip to revisit the area. A few months later, they drove to Sacramento for a wedding and ended up cruising down the 395. They only had their fancy clothes and a few running outfits but ended up camping in Mammoth Lakes for almost three months. They supplemented their wardrobe with scores from The Cast Off and Second Chance Thrift Shop. They made friends with a bunch of locals and found an apartment to rent. Gonzalez never left.

What’s your favorite thing about your backyard?

“I’ve been in Mammoth Lakes for six years,” says Gonzalez, “and I have barely touched any of it.” This sentiment is echoed by so many Mammoth Lakes locals about their huge backyard. Gonzalez loves “anything that will take me outside,” noting that some of his favorite places to backpack are Iva Bell Hot Springs (a 34-mile out and back to backcountry geologic pools), Minaret Lake, and Thousand Island Lake.

When friends or family visit in the winter, what are your must-do activities and places to go?

“My mom hates the cold,” Gonzalez laughs. His parents moved from Mexico to the United States when Gonzalez was 13, and they can’t quite grasp why Gonzalez would live in an area that is snowbound for half the year. When they visit, Gonzalez likes to take them on mellow nature walks to places like Hot Creek or Minaret Vista.

What are your favorite runs at Mammoth Mountain and what do you love about them?

Gonzalez, the reluctant skier that he is, really just likes to follow his friends. “I’m not a great skier, but I can hold my own,” he says, noting that he likes to kick around Canyon and Main Lodges. “I’ve dabbled a little in the park, but it’s terrifying because I don’t want to get hurt!”

What’s your favorite spot for Apres and why?

Gonzalez loves going to Tusks at Main Lodge when he’s on the hill. He also enjoys patronizing Distant Brewing (formerly Black Doubt Brewing), as well as the Clocktower Cellar (a basement dive bar with 160 selections of whiskey and 26 beers on tap).

What’s your favorite post-ski/ride place to grab a bite? Favorite items on the menu?

Gonzalez loves the pretzels at the Yodler, an alpine-themed restaurant at Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge. “It’s a huge pretzel you can share, served with cheese sauce and mustard,” Gonzalez says.” He also loves John’s Pizza Works and Giovanni’s for classic pizza and wing combos. He likes his wings atomic. His locals’ secret is Latin Market (a hole-in-the-wall Mexican taqueria) for their California burrito.

What’s your favorite non-ski/ride winter activity?

Gonzalez, like many Eastsiders, is a hot springs connoisseur. Although it would take quite a bit of cajoling to learn where his favorite is. He’s got a kitted-out Toyota Tacoma complete with lifted bed and LED lights, so he loves to cuddle up and camp with his dogs, sisters Matty and Roam, after an evening of soaking under the Sierra stars.

Any winter events in town that you never miss?

Gonzalez never misses Night of Lights, the epic, free fireworks show put on courtesy of Mammoth Mountain at Canyon Lodge in mid-December. It’s usually crazy-packed, often totally freezing, and always super festive. He also loves Canyon Lodge’s season-ending Pond Skim. The timing of this event always depends on the weather, but it usually happens in April. Both are awesome events at which to see and be seen.

What keeps you around the Eastern Sierra in summer?

Gonzalez loves Mammoth Lakes summer activities, especially backpacking, hiking and floating. He recently invested in a 10-foot inflatable boat, which he loves to take down June Lake’s Return Ditch, then grab a beer at June Lake Brewing and some Hawaiian food at Ohana’s. He can also be spotted floating in high country lakes on inflatable stingrays, killer whales and unicorns (often repping some Distant Brewing beer on his Instagram while he’s at it).

Can you share your best local secret to enjoying Mammoth Lakes?

“I like the simple stuff,” says Gonzalez, like “walking around the Enchanted Forest for the colors in fall.” The Enchanted “Forest” (you’ll know what we mean when you see the sign) is a favorite walk for locals and their dogs, accessible at the end of Tamarack Street in Old Mammoth. It’s part of a mellow loop below the imposing Mammoth Rock.

“I was very focused on my career before moving up here, so Mammoth Lakes kind of slowed me down,” says Gonzalez. “But it sped me up, too, because I love getting outdoors.”

Sarah Rea

Sarah Rea has lived in the Sierra for 20 years (eight in Yosemite and seven so far in Mammoth Lakes), but has been eating cast iron skillet pancakes for most of her life. She learned how to make soap from bacon grease when she was four and has always loved picking wild berries. She thinks…

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