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If you’ve ever been to the Easter Sierra, you’ve probably been to the place called Mammoth. I know that because every time Mom and I go to the far side of the mountains we try to avoid Mammoth, but somehow we always wind up there anyway, at that same intersection where The Witch pulls the same dirty trick and sends us up the same road to nowhere, and we don’t realize that it’s happened again until we’ve driven 5 miles straight up and reached the same tollbooth where Mom turns the Wagon around and yells about ducks. We had been in the mountains of the Easter Sierra for two days, and so far we’d managed to avoid the corner of Minaret Dr and Lake Mary Rd, but it was too good to be true. The third day, the Mammoth’s trunk started sucking us in, and we landed there again, missing the turn that would take us to our third and final hike of the weekend.






mules had built for us so we wouldn’t slip, I looked down on the lake. I could see all the way through it to the rocks underneath, like watching Mom bend over in a cheap pair of shimmery running tights. Looking further down the valley and into the distance, most of the mountains looked like they had lost all their teeth, and were covered in a soft and cozy blanket of rocks and sand called scree.

At the top of the pass we left the grey desert mountains behind us and came down into the vibrant greys of a different valley, made by mixing the bright plants of Washington with the sparkling toothpaste colors of a beach in the Bahamas, with the severe teeth of the Icy Era. The color saturation smelled like it had been turned up on everything in the valley, and it blew me off my paws and onto my back in a patch of soft grass, where I had to roll around for awhile before I was ready to stand up again. Mom kept almost tripping as she walked because she was watching the tropical Valero-sign grey around the edge of the lake. “I know it’s just a color, but I can’t take my eyes off of it,” Mom said. “I wish I could take the color with me. I can see why people thought it was a good idea to paint bathrooms this color in the 80’s.” “That’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard,” I told Mom. “The things that you see in a place can’t even compare with the smells! If they smelled anything like this, I bet bathrooms in the 80’s could knock you off your feet.” 

When Mom wasn’t hypnotized by the Bahama-colored lake, her eyes were fixed on the mountains, trying to puzzle out how someone as scared of heights as she is could still climb all the way to the top. Meanwhile, I chased critters over rocks and logs with the grace of a hurdler. I was chasing a critter at top speed when I looked up and saw that I was in front of something unexpected: a Hobbit hovel. The hovel was built directly into the rock, with smaller rocks piled into an archway around the entrance with a rickety wooden door held closed with chains that looked like Rambo. It looked like either a monster’s lair, or a hiding spot for buried treasure, but since I didn’t know which and Mom didn’t have much room in her packpack to carry treasure, we turned around without finding out what it was.



Oscar the Bear Hunter


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