Snowmobiling Sonora Pass

Yesterday I went snowmobiling with Sean Patrick (Sarah’s cousin who has lived in Mammoth Lakes for over 30 years). This is the view I had coming over Kingsbury pass. We met at Sonora Pass on the east side of the Sierra Nevada at 10am. Let me start by saying that convincing Sarah it was safe for me to go snowmobiling with Sean with over 100” of snowfall in the past 7 days was not easy. But after some deliberation, and a brief course on how to use an avalanche beacon, I headed out to Sonora Pass from South Lake Tahoe at 8am. 

 The road ends where they stopped plowing for winter, just past the Marine Corps Mountain Training Center. Sean was already there waiting for me when I arrived with the two machines we would be riding for the day. My whip was a 2015 RMK Pro 800 (the one closest in the picture). This is the most powerful and advanced snowmobile I have ever ridden, and boy was I excited and nervous at the same time. So much so, that I forgot to put my GoPro on my chest and start my Ski Tracks to track my route. I’m glad I managed to whip out my phone for a few pictures during the ride.

Sonora Pass is a sight to be seen in the winter. We spent the beginning of the ride simply climbing the grade via the unplowed road. The Marine Corps does groom the road regularly which made riding and getting familiar with the sled a blast! We continued upward past the PCT crossing and played around in a meadow where I struggled to figure out the nuances of riding a snowmobile in powder. These new sleds tip right over and are easy to get carving in the snow, however balancing the throttle and keeping them carving proved much more difficult. I’m sure the combination of my lack of experience and being out of shape didn’t help because Sean made it seem very easy to just carve around. “BRRRRAPP, BRRRRRRRRRRRRAP, BRAPPP!” was all that was to be heard.

We eventually made our way down the grade and then went out Forrest Service Route 077 playing around in the Leavitt Meadows. BRAAAPPing around in the meadows completely took it out of me and we stopped for some hot burritos courtesy of Sean and the “HotDoggers” installed on his sleds. If you’re not familiar; HotDoggers are aluminum canisters that are strapped to the exhaust pipe under the hood. They harness all of the heat from the engine giving you a hot lunch in the middle of nowhere. Sean also had hot sauce on hand making the burritos even tastier. 

After an “easy” ride… haha, you could have put a fork in me, but Sean barely burned through a half tank of gas when he usually goes through two… we went to the Minden Meat House and had some sandwiches and picked up some take-home meats. The picture below also indicates the extensive beer selection (pretty funny pano there, iPhone decided to stitch two photos together that is one of Sean looking at his phone and one where he is looking at me.).

Tonight our firsts guests arrived at our new Tahoe abode, and I’m excited to go snowboarding tomorrow! 

Over and out.


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