Mam­moth won­ders

From moon­sets to moun­tain climb­ing, our Deputy Ed dis­cov­ers first-hand why Cal­i­for­nia’s Mam­moth Lakes is awe­some for the soul

Women's Health Australia - - CONTENTS - By Lizza Ge­bi­la­gin

Cal­i­for­nia’s Mam­moth Lakes re­gion is big, beau­ti­ful and breath­tak­ing

I’ve seen many sun­sets: ones from wooden cliff-side bars in the lit­tle­known par­adise of El Nido in the Philip­pines, above the blue-domed build­ings over­look­ing the wa­ters of San­torini in Greece, and (nowhere near as glam­orous but still kinda nice) through the win­dows by the toi­lets at Women’s Health HQ.

A moonset, how­ever? I’ve never seen one be­fore. It’s not even crossed my mind such a thing ex­ists un­til now, as I shiver in the crisp au­tumn evening in Mam­moth Lakes, Cal­i­for­nia, watch­ing the moon dis­ap­pear be­hind the sil­hou­ette of a moun­tain­ous sky­line. With the moon’s exit, the back­drop of thou­sands of stars take cen­trestage. Streaks of light flash ev­ery two min­utes. Are those shoot­ing stars?

The guide who brought me to this look­out point, Minaret Vista, an­swers, “Yes, they are.” I’m so in awe I for­get to make a wish.

This ex­pe­ri­ence, which has re­duced my vo­cab­u­lary to one drawn-out ‘wooow’, is why I’m in Mam­moth. Months ago, I read a re­search paper from the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine, sug­gest­ing that awe-in­duc­ing ac­tiv­i­ties make us act less self­ishly (and more con­sid­er­ately of oth­ers) be­cause we’re re­minded of how small we are in the world. My life needed an in­jec­tion of awe – the stress of city liv­ing feel­ing all-con­sum­ing – and

I’d heard Mam­moth was one of the world’s best spots for stargaz­ing. It’s de­liv­er­ing: the un­end­ing clus­ters of pos­si­ble suns and so­lar sys­tems make me feel tiny, yet ex­pan­sive.

This feel­ing of light­ness has been a re­cur­ring sen­sa­tion over the past three days. I call it ‘the Mam­moth Lakes ef­fect’. From the mo­ment I landed at Mam­moth Yosemite Air­port, the vast, var­ied land­scape of high desert, lush forests and

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