I recently took a trip to Mammoth with my family and despite my aversion to sliding down hills on pieces of wood, I really enjoyed my time there. One of the most memorable moments of that trip was the walk on Convict Lake, a serene spot that has a very interesting and bloody history. I also added a little bit about the nearby town of Bishop in this post for you food people. I’ll do food post about Mammoth soon, so stay posted.
The Shootout at Convict Lake
The water of Convict Lake had frozen over and we eventually decided to test it’s structural integrity. Among the quiet clean air of Mammoth Mountain stood me, in contemplation of whether or not the ice could hold a sandwich filled 220 pound Asian man. You could’ve mistaken me for a white walker from Game of Thrones the way I stood there.
When I finally decided that I wanted to kill Jon Snow, urggh, walk onto the lake, it quickly became my favorite part of the trip. The view of the Sherwin Mountain range is quite breathtaking, especially when you’re praying that you don’t fall into the freezing water.
The frigid air felt fresh and exhilarating as I breathed it in and I began to wonder:
Why is such a breathtaking & serene place called Convict Lake?
In 1871, twenty nine convicts escaped from the Nevada State prison. They broke off into two groups, one of which headed towards the Mammoth area. The convicts were attempting to pass through the Sierra Nevada Mountains hoping to allude the law in pursuit. Along the way, the convicts robbed people and killed a Pony Express rider named Billy Poor. This lead to the formation of a vigilante group lead by Deputy Sheriff George Hightower who tracked the convicts to Diablo creek, where a shootout ensued. Two men in Hightower’s posse died, Robert Morrison (who they named Mount Morrison after) & Mono Jim (who they name Mono Jim Peak after). Most of the escaped convicts were eventually captured, 2 of which were hung and lynched by another vigilante group while escaping to the town of Bishop. It’s now a popular spot for fishermen and a point of interest for anyone looking to take some great pictures (almost as dangerous as a gunfight with convicts).
My family has made it a tradition to stop in Bishop on the way home from Mammoth. The city has been used as a set for several movie Westerns in the 30’s and 40’s among other things but more recently it has become a food stop for people leaving the mountain.
Erick Schat’s Bakkery
Schatt’s trademarked it’s signature sheepherder bread in 1938 and has become the must-stop roadside bakery for anyone leaving Mammoth. It’s become such a popular spot that they reportedly produce 25,000 loaves of bread a week. According to their website, Sheepherder bread was introduced to the area in the early 1900’s by Basque immigrants. It’s a very simple process that (traditionally) involves an underground cast iron Dutch oven.
We entered the bakery and were stopped immediately by the long winding lines of hungry patrons. Racks of baked goods created claustrophobic hallways with walls that would send a carb conscious dieter into shock. Past the rows of bread is the sandwich bar, where 8 people worked diligently to get out orders. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I snuggled with baked goods while I waited.
I ordered a roast beef sandwich with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, onions, peppers, and mustard. The bread was good, but a little too soft for my liking. The sandwich was very competently done, but really nothing to write home about. I came to the conclusion that the sandwiches were really just here to fill a need in the market for travelers looking for a meal. The real focus was on the sale of their bread (I should be a detective, the way that I can see these things :P). Even though I wasn’t impressed by the sandwich, I thought I took an Instagram worthy picture, so here it is:
Mahogany Smoked Meats
There are very few things in this life more majestic than jerky. I know this is a blog primarily about sandwiches, but if I had more wealth and wore leather chaps, I’d totally be a Jerky Slayer too. Mahogany Smoked Meats is also in Bishop and only down the street from Schatt’s Bakkery.
There’s not much else to say about this place other than it is a paradise for all of you winter sport carnivores out there. They also have a restaurant if you want to eat some hot food but I think you’re better off just sampling all the jerky. My two favorites? Teriyaki Buffalo and Peppered wild boar.
My first time in Mammoth was a resounding success and I felt like a rugged mountain man after eating that jerky. Sure, I stayed in a beautiful cabin with all the amenities and road around in a car the whole time, but ruggedness is a state of mind.