Rare View: Sunrise Gondola Up Mammoth Mountain

Rise 'n shine, vista fans, for a dawn ride up the the big hill.

SCIENCE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY, we imagine, about how sunlight hitting rocks and rivers and trees changes each day, at least a little bit. Maybe we're a little further than we were yesterday from our nearest star, or our planet has shifted on its axis in the slightest of ways. Maybe the rocks have eroded a bit over the last 24 hours, as rocks tend to do, rather predictably, or maybe the river is a little higher or lower. The short of it? You'll never see the same view twice, even if you're standing in the same place at the same time of day for years. This knowledge brings fresh appreciation of what you're seeing, of course, but sometimes even fresher appreciation presents itself, as it will on Mammoth Mountain on Saturday, July 11.

THE FAMOUS MAMMOTH GONDOLA...  "will start spinning at 5 a.m." while "taking guests up the summit (hot drink in hand) where one of the Eastern Sierra's most stunning scenes unfolds daily." Can we just pause to say "wowza" here at the prospect of standing at over 11,000 feet at sunrise? Thank you, we do believe we will say it: wowza. Savoring the sun's first hello of the day from one of the tippiest-toppiest places in the Sierra -- and, yes, in all the Western United States -- sounds like a moment to clear the mind and fill out the spirit. But it won't be all standing and staring at the horizon as the sky starts to light up. There shall be a group yoga session atop the mountain if you're inclined, or a guided nature walk, or the chance to take photos with photographer Peter Morning lending tips.

THE GUIDED WALK... heads for the Lakes Basin overlook, so prepare for that all breath-taking, experience-expanding moment we're so often told to create more of in our hectic, workaday lives. Cost to board the gondola? Fifteen bucks for adults, a little less for youth and seniors, and kids ages 10 and under can ride for free. Are you feeling the majesty? The wonder? The promise of a new day dawning? The same vistas and sights do change daily, it is true, but getting to see a beloved stretch of nature at a whole different time of day is sometimes the life-goosing we've been searching out.

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