Posted by: Catherine | August 27, 2009

The Ultimate Picnic




I used to go helicopter skiing in British Columbia every year and almost as incredible as the skiing was…the picnics were as memorable. There you were, hundreds of miles from everywhere with views that stretched for forever…and out of the helicopter came the most delicious sandwiches on thick slices of homemade breads, cookies that had been baked early that morning, fresh tropical fruit (no orange slices here!), and bars of Swiss and Belgian chocolate.  We stuck the backs of skis into the deep snow, put our poles across the bindings and each of us (eleven eager skiers/eaters and our guide) had a seat. There, we had a picnic to end all picnics…and everyday for a week!

I’ve had picnics in other spectacular spots–in the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, along the Colorado River–but none has ever moved me like those feasts in the snow in the Canadian Rockies. Until now. This is the second summer Bruce, Emma, Guthrie and I have gone to Mammoth Lakes. It’s famous for being a ski resort, but summers there are something else. The place is virtually empty, and the vastness and beauty of the scenery rivals that of British Columbia. And so do our picnics.

A typical day for us begins with a trip to a bakery, Schat’s, that makes sandwiches with your choice of about ten homemade breads (we almost always choose ciabatta); ham, fresh-cut turkey (they ask if you want white or dark meat, and cut it right there); pastrami (our fave), roast beef, veggie, and tuna; piles of lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers and onions; mayo and two kinds of  mustard. With each sandwich you get pickles and a cookie (we go with the M&M…or I should say Emma does). Then, we  hike to some gem of a lake high up in the Sierras–we trudge up through forests and wide-open meadows and literally out of the expanse we come upon a lovely, crystal-clear lake surrounded by rocky cliffs and mile-high pines. Our hearts stop, then the ground rumbles as Guthrie, our 160-pound Leonberger, rushes by and dives in. Emma follows, and as the two of them paddle around together, Bruce and I swoon.

We hang by the lake, watching for black bears, and eat our picnic on a rock or log or  little sandy clearing of a beach, marveling about how far we are from everything and everybody (often we don’t see a single other soul)…and yet only a five-hour drive from LA. We go to a different lake each day, and we are just as awestruck by the last one on our last day as we are by the first one on the first day.









  1. Words can’t describe how beautiful your pictures are. The water, trees, mountains… absolutely breath taking! Thank you so much for sharing them.

  2. How wonderful. I miss having picnic like this with our son. We used to do it a lot when he was younger (sigh). So, enjoy your time with her as much as you can, before she go off to college.

  3. Spectacular views, gorgeous pictures! I would love to have those yummy sandwiches in a beautiful spot like this!

  4. What beautiful photos! We love Mammoth and I can only imagine the fun you had there in the summer. Guthrie and Oscar would have such fun swimming and romping through the woods together!

  5. What georgous pictures! Looks that you had fun!!

    The food looks very appetizing!!!

  6. Uhm, wow. That’s a friggin picnic! 😀

  7. Very nice! Great picnic and gorgeous pictures! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  8. Just came across your blog and read your “Favorites” section in the side bar…just wanted to say how JEALOUS I am that you live close to Bay Cities Deli…it’s my favorite! I live in Nashville but go there every time I’m in LA. And the fact that you can buy burrata pretty much anytime you want makes me jealous too. You can’t buy it here at all.

  9. What a beautiful place! The pictures are breathtaking! A perfect place to picnic – the sandwiches sound delicious!

  10. Now, you know how to live! I love the turkey – with the choice of white or dark – sliced there. I also love – the immediacy of it all.

  11. Hi Catherine, gorgeous pictures and fabulous descriptions of Mammoth. I wish i could time-travel there right now, out of this heat wave. Yummy recipes – i hope your family appreciates you! xoxo susan

  12. Breathtaking! I thought nothing could be prettier than that picnic, but then I saw that mountain shot! Wow.

  13. WOW! I love your photos!

  14. love the beautiful view! nd the sandwich looks yumm!!

  15. Beautiful View ! Love to have a sandwich in such beautiful View …

    Have Delightful day !

  16. This looks like such a beautiful place to picnic. And made even better by the privacy of it all.

    Lunch looks great too. You’ve inspired me to go on a picnic!

  17. Wow, what a wonderful place! The pictures are amazing!

    I agree that is the perfect picnic!

  18. I haven’t been to Mammoth in forever…one year there was still snow in July and we skied. It is beautiful but the picnic in the Rockies sound amazing!

  19. What beautiful scenery, truly breathtaking. It looks like you all had a wonderful summer, including Guthrie. Love the pink neckerchief by the way.

  20. Hi, I’m new here… the scenery in your photograph is breathtaking! I hike with my dog and I carry a bandanna to dunk in water when it’s hot outside, but I never thought to keep a clean one to have lunch on, what a simple and good idea! hugs from Hundewanderer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: