Why Locals Love Mammoth Lakes: Ashley Hofman

Ashley Hofman wanted to move to California since high school. She’d once been to a wedding in San Diego and had dreamed of coming west ever since. So, after earning her degree in marketing from Pittsburgh University, she bought a one-way ticket to the Golden State. “I had one bag of clothes. I had no job. I lived on some guy’s couch for a while!”

Hofman, now 32, tells the story as she sits clad in a cozy wool sweater the morning after Mammoth Lakes’ first snow of the 2019-2020 season (a little shocking, but certainly not surprising, in early September). She’s sipping a coffee in Mammoth Mountain‘s Main Lodge, where she works as the direct marketing manager for Mammoth Mountain.

A Love of Snow Sports

Hofman was a snow-lover from a young age. In fact, “I was the only one in my family who took to snow sports. All my friends did it, and I wanted to do it, too!” Hofman was on the snowboard team at her elementary school in her hometown of Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

“We’d travel to Blue Mountain and Camelback in Pennsylvania,” says Hofman. “Of course, they are teeny tiny mountains compared to the west coast.”

Falling for Mountain Life in Mammoth Lakes

That one-way ticket to San Diego sent Hofman on a new trajectory — she ended up getting off the friend’s couch and earning her master’s degree in organizational management. She met her husband, Jason, who also loved the outdoors, and his sister happened to own a condo in Mammoth Lakes. “It was our escape,” says Hofman. “We could come up every long weekend. We could ski in the winter or climb in the summer. It’s quite a haul from San Diego, and we always said if we could ever move there, we totally would.”

Three years ago, they got their chance. Hofman’s husband landed a job with the American Red Cross, who would allow him to work remotely, and Hofman was ready to quit her marketing job in San Diego to move to Mammoth Lakes, but they agreed to let her work remotely as well. Then her job at Mammoth Mountain opened up. “I’ve always wanted to work full-time for the resort, so it was perfect.”

“My family back in Pennsylvania were like, ‘Are you sure you want to live in a mountain town?” says Hofman, laughing. “I said of course!”

Making Mammoth Lakes Home

They were stoked. They were becoming Mammoth Lakes locals and prepping for their first winter — which just so happened to include the snowiest month in Mammoth Lakes history (245 inches fell in “Januburied” 2017).

That winter sparked “Shovel for Victory!” shirts with cartoon images of Woolly the Mammoth holding a snow shovel triumphantly in the air.

The Hofmans got another surprise that season — Ashley was pregnant (her son, River, is now 2). “And we lived in a cabin with no snow removal. They were calling for an average winter, and we were like, ‘we can handle it!’” They planned to trudge from the end of their long driveway to their house and then shovel.

Anyone who lived through 2016-2017 can imagine how that worked out.

“We called everybody in town for snow removal late in the game, but they were completely booked up. Finally, my husband flagged a plow driver down, pleading with him, ‘my wife is pregnant, we need help!’ He took us on.”

The reward? Well, they’re still here. “It was hard getting through it, but once we were past it, we were so happy to have the experience. It was such a huge thing for the locals to get through it together.”

Family-Friendly Mountain Life

An even bigger reward? River gets to grow up a Mammoth Lakes kid.

“He loves sticks and dirt and rocks and pinecones, collecting things,” says Hofman. “He loves swimming in the lakes. He is living life! If he’s ever fussy or whiny, we’re like, ‘What do you have to complain about? You live in the most beautiful place!’”

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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