Experiences with Eastern Sierra Long-Distance Shuttle Services?
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John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Experiences with Eastern Sierra Long-Distance Shuttle Services? on 02/09/2014 11:08:36 MST Print View

I'm going to be finishing up a JMT thru over a weekend in July, and, due to the timing of everything, I'm almost certainly going to be traveling for my return trip when ESTA isn't running (Sunday). Since the bus isn't an option, I'm going to be relying on one of the long-distance shuttles to get from Lone Pine to the Mammoth Airport.

I have a decent idea of what's out there, but I'm having a bit of trouble finding feedback/reviews from people who have used any of these services for the most part. Does anyone have any experience/feedback on any of the shuttles listed below?

Original Mammoth Shuttle (www.originalmammothshuttle.com)- Definitely one of the better-looking websites (not that it remotely matters), and the cheapest rate, but I haven't really been able to find any other mention of them other than the climber.org list.

East Side Sierra Shuttle (www.eastsidesierrashuttle.com)- The guy who runs this one is pretty active on the JMT Yahoo group. I can't really find any feedback, but people definitely seem to use him a lot for trailhead shuttling and resupply.

Mammoth All Weather Shuttle (www.mawshuttle.com)- People seem to love these guys on Yelp, but they're a bit more expensive.

Mount Whitney Shuttle- This guy is definitely well-liked on High Sierra Topix, but the website/e-mail doesn't seem to work, and it's not super clear whether or not he's still in business.


FWIW, it's worth noting that I've posted the same question on the JMT Yahoo group and not really gotten a ton of responses, except for the guy who runs East Side Sierra Shuttle.

Also, I should add that I'm well aware that I could wait a day and take ESTA. I'm trying not to do that, because I'm already maxing out on vacation days and my work is already making a pretty decent-sized accommodation for me to do this trip (waiving the normal limit on consecutive days off, letting me go when we're short-handed, etc.).

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
East side sierra shuttle is legit on 02/09/2014 13:11:36 MST Print View

Run by a guy named Paul. Not super cheap... But reliable.
Nice guy, arrived early. Took me from N. Lake to S. Lake when I did the Evolution loop.

Elizabeth Tracy
(mariposa) - M

Locale: Outside
Original Mammoth Shuttle on 02/09/2014 15:50:17 MST Print View

I have used Original Mammoth Shuttle and was very satisfied. Rolf is a nice guy, reliable and fun to talk to. I would not hesitate to recommend his service.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: East side sierra shuttle is legit on 02/09/2014 17:16:05 MST Print View

"Run by a guy named Paul. Not super cheap... But reliable.
Nice guy, arrived early."

+1 He's all of the above and, IME, cheaper than a lot of the other alternatives. At least for the shuttles I priced out.

M B
(livingontheroad) - M
shuttle on 02/09/2014 19:55:19 MST Print View

I assume you have checked out air schedules, etc well enough to be sure you are saving a whole day?.

For me, Mammoth simply doesnt make sense on return trip. Late afternoon flight out to LA, red-eye from LA and connections gets me home next morning at 9am dead tired anyway. It saves zero time, not going to work that day.

Wait till next day and take bus to Reno, Im home at 11pm thru Reno.

Im back at work the 3rd day regardless of where I depart from, and Reno is much cheaper.

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Re: shuttle on 02/09/2014 20:37:10 MST Print View

Yeah, I looked into it- since the flight looks like it only leaves Mammoth once a day, I'll be getting into LAX 7ish. My flight home (to Philadelphia) would be leaving at 10ish for a 6AM arrival the next day. I'll be going to work (albeit an hour or two late) that day, and have no illusions about not being a zombie. I've done red eye flights before and been reasonably functional, so I'm hopeful.

That said, I'm not under any illusions that this is an ideal way to do the JMT and the return logistics. In a perfect world, I'd have as much time off as I wanted, and I would just hang out in Lone Pine for a day before ESTA started up again. If shelling out $220 for a shuttle and having a crappy Monday at work is the price I pay for getting to go at all, I'll definitely do it.

FWIW, thanks for the Reno suggestion, even if the flights don't happen to work better for me personally (looked into it). Depending on where you're going, that could definitely be a nicer option for getting home for a lot of folks.

Robert Perkins
(rp3957)

Locale: The Sierras
Experiences with Eastern Sierra Long-Distance Shuttle Services? on 02/09/2014 20:49:32 MST Print View

Another vote for Paul at East Side Sierra! Price-wise, he is much lower than the others when I have got quotes from him. He is very knowledgeable on topics related to the Sierras, and is a pretty talkative and friendly guy. One of his vehicles caught me a bit off-guard on a pick up one time, ( a beat up looking Mercedes with a home made looking Thule on top ), but it ran well and he was on time!

christopher smead
(hamsterfish) - MLife

Locale: hamsterfish
Paul from East side on 02/09/2014 21:50:22 MST Print View

Yeah actually now that I remember, Paul was cheaper than the other place I priced out. So I take that comment back. ;)

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Thanks on 02/10/2014 17:09:21 MST Print View

Based on the feedback here, I'm reserved with Paul. FWIW (and in case someone else stumbles across this thread in the future), he did end up being the cheapest of all of the options, so that (plus recommendations and the fact that a lot of people seem to be using him on the JMT list, even if they aren't chiming in on the experience) definitely sealed the deal.

Follow-up stupid question (although I am getting a bit ahead of myself here, since it's 5.5 months away)- what is the tipping/gratuity etiquette when dealing with trail shuttles? I'm a city dweller, so I'm used to tipping taxi drivers on the rare occasions that I need one, but I'm not totally sure if/how that translates to a long distance shuttle.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Thanks on 02/10/2014 17:23:48 MST Print View

"Follow-up stupid question (although I am getting a bit ahead of myself here, since it's 5.5 months away)- what is the tipping/gratuity etiquette when dealing with trail shuttles? I'm a city dweller, so I'm used to tipping taxi drivers on the rare occasions that I need one, but I'm not totally sure if/how that translates to a long distance shuttle."

Paul doesn't seem to expect anything beyond the price he quoted you, at least not that I could pick up on. I'm sure he wouldn't turn extra money down, as he lives on his shuttle income, substitute teaching, and nature photography, but he definitely doesn't come across as expecting a gratuity.

Stephen Adams
(stevemkedcom) - MLife

Locale: Northwest
Paul at East Side Sierra on 02/10/2014 17:38:50 MST Print View

We used Paul at East Side Sierra last August and agree with the above comments.
I did tip him but I do not remember how much. Probably $20.

Robert Perkins
(rp3957)

Locale: The Sierras
Experiences with Eastern Sierra Long-Distance Shuttle Services? on 02/10/2014 19:04:11 MST Print View

I'll second what Tom said. I think his 'quoted' price is intended to be the 'actual' price. I do think he'd appreciate any tips he did get however if you feel it's warranted.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Paul at East Side Sierra on 02/10/2014 19:14:29 MST Print View

+1 with Paul.

And, when you get close to your pickup date, try to get in contact with Paul to see what his schedule looks like.

I asked for a 7 am pickup and got it, but he drove past my motel at 4 am, and I could have been at the trail head by 6 am instead of 9:00. And it would have cut out 120 miles for him.

Edited by greg23 on 02/10/2014 19:24:07 MST.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
Feedback on Paul at East Side Sierra Shuttle on 09/07/2014 13:27:26 MDT Print View

Just got back from the JMT, and we used Paul Fretheim for 3 services: He drove us to Mammoth from Independence; he picked us up at Whitney Portal at the end of our trip; and he kept our car for us while we were on the trail (it's a Hybrid, and shouldn't be left for 3 weeks without being driven).

Everything went perfectly, and I would NOT hesitate to use his service again!

FYI, he's a substitute teacher for the local school district, and he does the shuttle work in the off-season. We met a lot of "moonlighting" teachers, including our YARTS bus driver.

John Rowan
(jrowan) - M
Re: Feedback on Paul at East Side Sierra Shuttle on 09/07/2014 13:43:45 MDT Print View

I actually meant to add something onto this thread as well. I did end up using Paul for a Lone Pine to Mammoth Airport Shuttle after my JMT thru (I HAD to use Sunday as my travel day, so ESTA wasn't an option), and he was fantastic- gave me a call about 2 hours ahead of time to confirm, showed up EXACTLY on time, and he had a lot of great knowledge about the mountains and the surrounding area that passed the time rather nicely. If I ever need another shuttle in the area, I'm definitely going to give him a call. FWIW, his prices on the routes I looked at were also substantially cheaper than any of the other services.

(Edited to change "YARTS" to "ESTA" because I am a silly.)

Edited by jrowan on 09/07/2014 13:44:27 MDT.