Multi-Club Driving Event Truly Mammoth
Story and Photos by Ben and Lisa Davoren, Redwood Region Members

The Fifth Annual 2014 Mammoth Lakes High Alpine Road Tour just looked too good to be true, so on Friday July18th we made the 6 hour trek from the Redwood Region to Mammoth Lakes, CA to see what our PCA counterparts were up to. Just getting there was a real treat! Driving along Highway 89, connecting to Highway 50 just before South Lake Tahoe to Highway 395, which runs down the eastern side of the Sierra. Between the town of Markleeville and 395, the road is always closed during winter when we are usually in the area; apparently nobody knows it's open during the summer, so we had unimpeded fun, top-down, even through a short thundershower or two, over twisty two-lane roads with scenic vistas (but not many guardrails!) down into the Antelope Valley. 

Mono Lake remains the gorgeous Jewel of the Eastern Sierra to drive past along 395 going south, though the whole section in that area appears to be the CHP's paradise, so staying near the limit is prudent.

Lisa and I were the first Redwood emissaries to join this Alpine tour, but were warmly welcomed by the principal hosts, Mark Coronado from the Sierra Nevada Region and Dave Ogden from the Sequoia Region. We soon found ourselves at the Friday evening mixer hearing about the main event with 45 other drivers (81 total attendees) from Diablo, Golden Gate, Sequoia, Orange Coast, Golden Empire, Vegas and Arizona Regions representing both Zones 7 and 8. This was the biggest group they have had to date, and one made up of pretty serious Porschephiles - many of the attendees had multiple Porsches and everyone seemed fluent in the nuances of models over the years. Mark had put together both hotel deals and food options which was a really nice touch.

On Saturday morning all drivers and passengers gathered at the Base Camp Café in 'downtown' Mammoth Lakes, which had graciously set aside scores of parking spaces for a wonderfully broad palette of Porsche colors (plus a bright yellow Lamborghini). This made a nice photo op while drivers had to decide whether to follow Dave in the 'spirited' group making a clockwise drive through the June Lake Loop and then out on East Highway 120, or Mark, taking the counterclockwise direction so we could pass each other somewhere in the middle, at a less aggressive pace.

Twenty of us took after Dave for the main event: a 119-mile drive, past stunning high alpine lake scenery on the way to Highway 120 East, a road that is so totally unlike anything we have along the Northern California Coast that it is hard to believe it exists: extremely long straightaways with great visibility, giant sweepers, and a 'whoop-de-do' section of pure roller coaster track for well over 5 miles. And the road is in phenomenal shape with not one pothole over the entire course. I look forward to driving it again.

We all met up for a preplanned buffet lunch at Rafters Restaurant & Lounge in Mammoth Lakes, once again with Porsche-only parking that brought the locals and visitors in to ooh-and-aah. Everybody was in a great mood, but the day wasn't over yet! We all took another relaxed drive up to the Mammoth Lakes area for more photo ops and to see the Earthquake Fault where Mother Nature has ripped a long ravine in this geologically active area. Those who still had stamina washed their cars for a Porsches-on-the-Plaza show in the Mammoth Village area, which also had the Mammoth Jazz festival going on, plus lots of restaurants open for dinner. Those who weren't fazed by the altitude went for a sunset view back up the road.

On Sunday there were other short group events including a ride up the Mammoth Gondola offering fantastic views, but we played hooky and had breakfast with our son who lives in Mammoth and provided us with the needed push to make this trek in the first place.

It was then time for the long trek back home. We chose 395 North to Highway 108 that comes back across the Sierra over the Sonora Pass, avoiding 120 (which goes through Yosemite) just to beat the crowds. 108 is a very narrow, twisting, at times steep two-laner that provided a good test of our Boxster's handling, especially since it rained the entire way back. Too much traffic for a great drive on a Sunday, but beautiful even driving below the limit.

It was great fun to mingle with like-minded Porsche aficionados from all over the state and beyond, swap stories, and see great cars. Kudos to this group for putting together a really tremendous event. If you are even the least bit curious and like to push your Porsche, I guarantee that next year's trip is for YOU!


Porsches
Colorful Group at the Base Camp Cafe' prior to the Highway 120 Sprint

The Road
Keeping a good following distance through the "Whoop-De-Do" roller coaster section of Hwy 120

June Lake
Driving along the June Lake Loop enjoying the Eastern Sierra