The winter of 2016-2017 was a challenging one in the Eastern Sierra and we are still feeling its effects. It certainly beat 1969, when rivers and streams over-topped dams and debris basins, the stuff John McPhee writes about in his book, The Control of Nature. In January, an ice dam formed on our roof. Because of the continuous freezing temperatures, a massive block of ice sat up there for almost two months, and eventually leaked into the gallery. Our platinum carpet was covered with brown tar and resin. Since January, we have waited patiently to get a date to have new flooring installed, and it’s finally happening before Thanksgiving.
We were pretty lucky compared to others in the Eastern Sierra who had roofs and walls collapse, and a house damaged by an avalanche. There was a lot of red-tagging going on up in Mammoth Lakes. During the recession (2008-2013), 75% of the contractors left the area. Remaining contractors have been swamped. Only one roofer in Mammoth Lakes gave us an estimate this year, but couldn’t so the work until spring of 2018. Finally found a roofer named ‘Angel’ and he was an angel, replacing layers of roof with all new material. Best of all, our new Inyo County inspector signed off on the job, which is something inspectors didn’t do 20 years ago. If you paid your permit fee, you were good to go.
Because we are located on the North Fork of Bishop Creek, in March, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power came by and told us that they were expecting massive runoff and to start preparing. I packed our collection of Native American in the gallery and moving those items to high ground. Unfortunately, because so many people were displaced due to the red-tagging of their homes, the closest available storage unit I could find was in Dayton, Nevada. I personally packed 120 sandbags, and ordered big six-foot wide rolls of Husky plastic, with Gorilla tape. In preparation for potential high water, I precut plastic to fit all around the building openings. Then I placed the sandbags around each opening. It was quite a scene. Bags were left in place for about a week before being gathered up and placed next to each opening.
Following the winter of 1969, CalTrans built a new bridge on US395 over the North Fork of Bishop Creek and added an massive abutment here at the gallery. A bypass channel was also put into use north of town, just above the Bishop Gun Club. In times of high water, which we had plenty of this year, the bypass is opened. Usually, the water-masters opened it for a day or two, but this year it was continuously open. There was so much snow in the town of Mammoth, that the National Guard spent 10 days trucking snow out of town.
We continue our hiatus through the end of 2017. As the winter starts again, please call in advance of your trip and I’ll try to accommodate your visit. Until then, happy and safe trails.