Everyone deserves a chance to take a break from daily life, spend time outdoors, and have fun with family and friends. For our Wounded Warriors, these opportunities are hard to come by and often present unique challenges. For one week in June, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra helped 29 Wounded Warriors and their families surmount these challenges, heal, and open possibilities for the future. Active duty service members and veterans from across California converged upon McGee Creek RV Park & Campground for a week of camping and exploring the awe-inspiring therapeutic outdoor recreation of the Eastern Sierra. With the support of volunteers, staff, and the community, Wounded Warriors biked, fished, paddled, and climbed their way to a new sense of strength and confidence. For some, the best part of the week involved accomplishing personal challenges. Marine Corporal Hannah conquered her fear, pushed herself to paddle, and learned to love hand cycling with the support of the group. At the end of the week, Hannah said “I learned I will always have a supportive community ‘family’ even after I get out of the military.” For others, the time spent with family, friends, and comrades was equally rewarding. Daniel and Ellie cheered as their brother, Marine Corporal Z, tackled paddling, climbing, and fishing despite his injuries. For Z, the week highlighted future possibilities, “I learned that even if we are disabled, we can still do great things.” Days of activity and new experiences were complimented by exceptional meals and beautiful evenings in camp. Everyone enjoyed their fresh catch once incorporated into a delicious fish bake. The annual Hootenanny, catered by the crew at Arcularius Ranch, was a great way to celebrate a successful week with Cowboy Poet Larry Maurice and Derik Olson entertaining the crowd.
Once again, the entire Mammoth Lakes community came together to welcome and support our Wounded Warriors and their families. Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra would like to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers, and distinguished guests who helped make the 11th Annual Operation High Altitude a success. Thanks especially to McGee Creek Campground, Eastern Sierra Transit Authority, The Breakfast Club, Sierra Mountain Guides, Mammoth Kayaks and Paddleboards, Crowley Lake Fish Camp, Mickey Baron, Jim Leonetti, Joe Bellomo, Jim Elias, Dan Lenging, Bob Klug, Chris Leonard, Bob Wilson, Scott Swett, Jose Marquez, Kevin Peterson, Dwayne Elhers, Bob Wegesser, Fred Kukulus, The Gottwald Family and Arcularius Ranch, Clif Bar, Hive Lip Balm, Canine Companions for Independence, Jeff Meadway, McGee Creek Lodge, Mammoth Mountaineering Supply, Crowley Lake Store, Mammoth Disposal, Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, and our crew of Gourmet Goddesses & Gods: Hilary & Tom Schroeder, Pat Smoogen, Simone Ardouin, Leslie & Jack Markovitz, Kat Kelly, Dick & Betsie Greenwood, Steve & Amy Ambellan, Claudia Chance, Penny Bordokas, Maggie Wahl, and Tricia Diamand. Together, we continued the tradition of changing lives and giving our Wounded Warriors a chance to experience the healing power of our home.