The bittersweet lemonade from this year's early high temperatures and lack of significant snowfall is access into the northern reaches of Inyo National Forest will begin earlier than usual this year. Officials have announced that plowing of numerous roads in the Mammoth Lakes area have begun with a goal of finishing all the work before the unofficial start of summer.
"Typically, we don't start the plowing until another month," said Marty Hornick, spokesman for the forest. "Our goal is to have everything open before Memorial Day weekend -- and that is early." Reds Meadow, which is typically the last area to get plowed, opened in late June or early July the past three years.
April 16 in the Lakes Basin area marked the end of crosscountry ski season, usually making room for snowmobilers for about a month, but the lack of snowpack has prompted work on Lake Mary Road and upwards to begin this week (snowmobiling is still allowed but not encouraged). An opening date is not set -- the goal, however, is before the April 27 fishing opener -- but pedestrians can take advantage in the meantime, provided they stay clear of equipment.
Work past Mammoth Mountain up Minaret Road is scheduled to begin at the end of April, followed by plowing down into Reds Meadow Valley, home to Devils Postpile National Monument.