|What was to be a leisurely stroll turned into quite a battle against the elements on the San Joaquin Ridge hike. It was 4.75 miles in length round trip but the 40+mph wind gusts made it a real effort. We followed a 4 wheel drive dirt road up the ridge as the wind whipped and blew dust in our faces and eyes. Even though the temp. was in the upper 40's the wind chill was significant in areas. Despite the ravages, it was a very scenic hike. One could gaze across at the close by Minaret Mountain and others of impressive size. These were all formed by volcanic action and the road we tread was gravel,cinder and dirt. It was at least a 8-10% grade on a barren ridge crest. We started at 9000ft. and peaked at 10450 for elevation gain of 1450 ft. The hike provides some astonishing vistas of the Minarets and surrounding canyons and mountains of the Mammoth region. Comprising mostly pumice gravel with copses of windswept pines, the terrain is wide open, making it easy to leave the road without getting lost. To the south, Mammoth Mountain rises naked of snow, bearing the scars of its ski runs, lifts, and buildings, and yet a most extraordinary reflector of afternoon light. On the eastern horizon, you can see the White Mountains. To the west we have unobstructed views of the Minarets, Banner Peak (12, 945 feet), and Mount Ritter (13, 157 feet), a row of jagged stone teeth that, properly scaled down, would do credit to an alligator’s smile. We nursed our tired bodies with a fabulous lunch at The Smokehouse in the residential common area of the Mammoth condominiums. We then had great Lattes at the Looney Bean. Another great day.