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offended by the ab-
sence of those sylvan
graces common only
to the older low-
lands. And if, hap-
pily, prodigal Na-
ture, in her bounty,
should set down a
delightful picture of
gentler beauty in
the midst of her
mountain grandeurs,
he appraises it the
more justly for its
mighty surround-
ings. The ancient hills, he knows, are man's oldest and unfailing friends;
their service, past and present, in making the earth inhabitable calls for his
tribute; and year after year finds him returning with joy to learn their
lessons and receive their strength. As Maxwell Burt gaily sings, —

There is no good denying it,

If you be mountain born,
You hear the high hills calling

Like the echo of a horn;
Like the echo of a silver horn that threads the golden day,
You hear the high hills calling, and your heart goes away.

The character and accent of mountain landscape at its best distinguish
the whole of the Yosemite National Park. Its area of 1,124 square miles

A Glaoier Landscape; Tuolumne Canon, where many thousands
of years ago, the great Tuolumne Glacier left its record in
the deep trough and polished granite slopes.

Another Glacier Landscape: The domes of Mt, Starr King (right*, with the Mt. Clark
group and its cirques beyond, forming the Illilouette water-shed.

^rM^«?«d»-. .v'.

Bl Capltan (the Captain), with early morning annligrht on l^R eaat face. One needs the
aid of figures to appreciate the maKnltude of this vnnt block of nnjolnted grranlte. The
brow of El Capitnn In 3,100 feet above the Merced River; Its actual nnminlt Is ."jOO feet
higher. Each face of the cliff exceeds 100 acres In area. A lone tree btoivIdk on a
ledge under the arch seen in the sliado^v on the rljslit In more than eighty feet high.



Vo»eiiii<«' KallN, seen from the Pierced Meadows.

The cataracts blow tlieir trumpets from the stoep; .
I hear the echoes through the mountains throng,
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep.

— Wordsworth.



First View of Ljell anrt Its IVeisrlibors. from tlie Lyell Fork of the 'I'uoitiinue. Mts. I, yell
and >IeC'lure are seen ou tlie sky-line. ri;;;lit of eenter.

combines the most rugged wildness with innumerable scenes of composed
beauty. Extending from an average elevation of 4,500 feet on its western
boundary to the snowy summits of the Sierra Nevada Range, at more than
13,000 feet, it includes the watersheds of two important rivers, the Merced
and the Tuolumne, and embraces a variety of upland scenery unequaled in
any other of our national parks.

Each of these great public outing grounds has its own especial inter-
est: the Colorado Grand Caiion, its vast gorge, with an infinite variety in
the forms and coloring of the river-sculptured rock; the Rainier Park, its
single volcanic peak,
imposing beyond
other American
mountains, snow-
crowned, and radi-
ating a score of huge
glaciers down its
densely forested
slopes; the Yellow-
stone, its wonderful
thermal basins and
their geysers ; the new
Glacier Park, like
the still grander Ca-
nadian Rockies near
by, a wealth of snow-
peaks, glaciers, and 'Ilu- WliiJ.- C a.s,;,,l., in li;..l ,■ |{i%,i jU l ..iin.'.s., » re.k It:



Indisin GriMt-Mill. An iniiiortant article of .sierra Indian diet
>va.s meal made by pounding Idaek oak acornN in rude mor-
tsirw in tiie granite. Tlie meal ^vas bleached ^vith hot ^vater
to remove the bitter taste, and itaked into haril cake by
dropiiin^ heated Ntoues into cookin;; biiskets containin;;' the
paste. Such acorn Itread is still made by the Indians.

beautiful lake-strewn

The Yosemite
Park has no geysers.
Its former mighty
ice-sheets have now
shrunk to a few pyg-
my glaciers, shel-
tered on the north
slopes of the highest
peaks. These are
mere shadows of the
ancient glaciers,
which left the story
of their extent and
work clearly written
upon what is doubt-
less the most fascin-
ating glacial land-
scape in America.

Such a record holds, inevitably, far greater value and concern for us
than the glaciers themselves could ever have had. The gray granite canons
which the ice-streams dug are as deep as that in the Arizona sand-stones.
Though less gorgeously colored, they are quite as wonderful in the carving
of cliff and wall. But they have other interest found nowhere else in equal
degree. Glorious waterfalls, flung banner-like from the sheer canon sides,
tell of complex systems of branches. These radiated like a family tree from
the trunk glaciers. All were bent to denude the Sierra slope of its sedi-
mentary rocks, and dissect the underlying granites with hundreds of caiions,
gorges, and valleys. Some
thousands of years ago, the
glaciers retreated slowly
back upon the heights of the
range. Each of the larger
troughs thus abandoned bore
proof of its glacial origin.
Instead of the even grades
of stream-cut cafions, they
presented the form of giant
stairways, down which the
glaciers had moved majes-
tically, to yield at last to the
then tropical heat of the

lower valleys. In this de- Snow-Creek FalU, on Tenaya Lake Trail.

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scent, the ice carved steps in its path, varying in height and breadth with
its own varying mass and the character and jointing of the rock. On
these steps hung a multitude of cataracts, and their deeply cupped treads
held hundreds of high-walled lakes.

The passing centuries have greatly relieved the primitive wildness of
this glacial landscape.
Forests as important as
those of the Rainier
Park, and perhaps even
more beautiful in their
universal mingling of
sunshine and shade, have
covered the upland mo-
raines and soil beds laid

'l"»vo Xortli-.siile Lakes. Upper
Twin I^ake, sibove, is sit the
head of Eleanor Creek, and
forms part of the Lake Elea-
nor syxteni. Below is Tilden
Lake, with Tower Peak ( 11,-
704 ft.> in tlie eentrsil dis-
tance, and Sauriiin Crest on
.the left.

by the ice. Many of the
waterfalls on the canon
stairways have cut through
their ledges, and become even more picturesque as cascades. While scores
upon scores of the fine glacial lakes still remain — and a larger book than this
would be required to describe and exhibit the notable lakes of the Yosemite
Park, — many others have been filled by stream deposit, profitably convert-
ing bare water areas into delightful mountain vales. Such is Nature's art.
Here our debt to the glaciers reaches its climax. For among the filled
lake basins made possible by their
mighty sculpturing are the valleys of
Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy, the chief
glories of the entire Park. By the
height and grandeur of their walls, the
unequaled majesty of their cataracts, the
charm of their level floors, and the va-
riety and interest of their forests and
mountain wild flowers, these famous
valleys claim place among the pre-emin-
ent treaSlirPS nnt nnlv nf Pplifrirn!^ "Apron" and Olaelal Tarn on Lakelet, on

enc treasures, not only or L,aiirornia, the Mereed at head of Littie vosemite.



^^^^^^ ^ but of all America. They are

^^^^^^P part of our great national heri-

^^^^^^ ^^ tage, — part, indeed, of "those

P^- ^^^^ higher things among our pos-

sessions," as Prof. Lyman has
said, "that cannot be measured
in money, but have an untold
bearing upon the finer sensibili-
ties of a nation."

Let no one, however, who
knows only these renowned val-
leys imagine that he has won his
due share of Yosemite's inspira-
tion. His birthright of beauty
and grandeur here is something
far more worth while. The two
great valleys are of course mag-
nificent, and each day spent in
them, or in climbing their walls,
will bring new rewards. But I
am sorry for those who go no
farther; who cannot spend a
few days, at least, back in the
upper country of the Merced or
Tuolumne, among the lakes and
shining granite domes of the
highlands. Even though they may climb no peaks, the high mountains will
welcome them to sit at their feet, share their gentler sunshine and broader
outlook, breathe their diviner airs, learn the joy of the upland trails, and
know that the best of Yosemite lies far from the crowds of Yosemite Val-
ley. Happily, this is now to be made easy, even for the "tenderfoot."

For the Yosemite country is a picture of contrasts and harmonies that
make a perfect whole. It is
not to be known by its fa-
mous valleys only. These
are but the enchanting fore-
ground of our scene, and
gain vastly by the dignity
and austerity of their high
mountain setting. Viewed
separately, the valleys,
splendid as they are, do not
make the picture, any more """"■ '" "*'"" "/ ''"77/' '"'"*'• ,.^"**: *"*' '"'■*^'^ *'*'^*

i^ ' .' ^ru^viiiK' lialf^viiy up the NUtpe.

CsitliedrnI Peak «el. lo.uaa l't.», a pruiiiiiient laml-
iiiark on the cliviile between the Merced anil
Tuolumne ^vaterHheds.

lew frttiii <>l3ii-i«>r i'oint. Holo^v. in lln' >l «tc«mI < nnoii, jir*- \ «Tn3il iiikI No^ikIji Fall.s. mIIIi
IJherty Cap. ii qiiiirter «l(>iii<>. risiiiK a tlioiiNiiiKl fe«'t «l>o\«> llie liittor fall, 'riu- Kraiiil«> Mlopcs of
Little YoMrniite are seen lie.toiiil. >lt. Clark, the "," to|>.M the .sky-line on the rijclit, an<l
Mt. Florenee on the extreme left.


than Millet's two figures bent In prayer make the "Angelus." We need to
know the background in order to get the true values of the foreseen. And
only so, indeed, can the highly sensational features of the valleys them-
selves, and their ancient story, be understood, Yosemite Valley and its sister
caiion of Hetch Hetchy, with their lesser replicas in different parts of the
Park, are all inseparable, geologically, from the High Sierra back of them.

Tlie "Governor Toil" Group, one of tlie finest in the Mariposa tirovt'.

The "dropped-block" theory of their origin has long been abandoned. They
are linked by the vanished glaciers with the snow-peaks.

Thus our Yosemite picture, both scenically and historically, looks back
of necessity from the warmth of its lowland grandeur to the wild sublimity
of bleak highlands, till recently the home of perennial frost. Even here
are startling surprises for one who expects no beauty on the ice-swept
heights. The stern sculpturing of pinnacled granite crags that dot the wide
plateaus is no more characteristic of the landscape than is their flora. Out-
posts of the forests, huddled clumps of lodgepole and white-bark pine, are
everywhere bravely scaling the ridges. Throngs of hardy mountain flowers,
most brilliant of Nature's children, crowd all the ravines and lakesides, and
seize upon every sheltered nook. The shallowest pretense of soil, weathered



A Study in Cloiuls and Mountains. View east from the summit of Ijauibert Dome. Be-
ginning: on the left, tlie peaks seen here are Dana, Gibbs and >Ianiniotli. The cloud
seenery of the Sierra is as eharacteristic and impressive as its landscape.

from the somber granites, Is sufficient Invitation. The short alpine summer
Is long enough for their modest needsi Boldly they rush the season, edging
away the tardy snow-banks, and calling on Old Winter to be up and going.
Hardly waiting for his departure, at once they set about their business of
hiding the glacial scars with masses of gay color. This ministry of beauty
begins at the very snow-line, and grows as flowers and forest march to-
gether down to the sunny glacial meadows, and on to the still older valleys
of the Slerran middle zone, deep with soil, and glowing in the long summer.
Eager as Nature has been to plant the broad Yosemlte uplands
with flowers and trees, she has scattered other wonders here with even
greater extravagance. Almost everything is on a scale of surprise. No-
where else in America are
highland lakes so plentiful
or their settings more su-
perb. The giant cataracts
of Yosemlte Valley dwarf a
hundred other great water-
falls and cascades in the
Park. These are hardly
noticed here, but any one of
them, could It be removed
to Switzerland, would be-

. Hiit«cr<'ups I'ollo^vinK Hetreat of tlic Snow. Tills Is

come a center or crowded Hic custom of many early flowers, near the timber line.



W'lisliliiiru Kiike <7,<j40 ft, el.>, on tlie Meroed Kiver above I^ake Merced. Lougr Mountain
(11,46.^ ft. », on the crest of the Sierra, is seen in the distance.

tourist inns. The Park's genial forests of white and red firs, sugar and yel-
low pines, incense cedars and mountain hemlocks, spreading up to altitudes
of eight and nine thousand feet, thrill every lover of splendid trees. But
these are overshadowed by its groves of kingly Sequoias, the marvel of
the botanical world, — immemorial trees that might have heard blind Homer

sing the fall of
Troy, or furnished
the timbers for Solo-
mon's temple.

Colossal this
landscape Is, but its
features are so well
proportioned that in
their immensity we
feel no exaggeration
or distortion. Only
when the visitor
compares them with
more familiar ob-
jects does he clearly
see that here, truly,

.North Dome, seen from ita|>|>.v Isles. IS a playgrOUnd



fashioned for giants. The very harmony of Its elements makes us slow to
grasp the full majesty of the whole. To know Yosemlte well is the study
of a lifetime, — labor well repaying the student, as John Muir has found it.
We may not quickly learn all Its magic, though even the newcomer yields
to Its spell. He comes again and again who would know its mysteries. If
Yosemlte were of Greece, how Inevitably legend-, seeking the clue to such
perfection of beauty, must have peopled It with gods!

The Indians of the Sierra, however, were seldom builders of myths.

'I'lu- 'l"«'rraoe«l AValls of Hetcli Hetchy, seen from granite bar in eenter of the Valley near
its loiver end. Kolana Rock on rig;lit and jVorth Dome on left rise more than 2,000 feet
above the meado^vs and forests of the Valley floor.

Stolid and unimaginative beyond most of their brethren, they saw In their
mountains only homes, sustenance and defense. Superstitions and devil-
lore they had In plenty. One of their tales, for example, concerned Yosemlte
Valley, their "Ah-wah-nee," meaning a deep grassy vale. Ah-wah-nee, they
told the whites, was the abode of demons, at whose head was the great
Tu-tock-ah-nu-lah, the "Rock Chief," which we have translated into cur-
rent usage In the Spanish "El Capitan." His ominous face could be seen
m the side of a vast cliff, threatening Invaders of his domain. But one
suspects that this naive legend may have been Invented for a timely purpose.

Giant StMiuoisis Jil tlie (a l>iii in Marlpcfsa <;rovc.



View South from Kuna Crest, showing Mts. Lyell, McCIure and Florence on the distant
sky-line, with Potter Point and Parsons Pealv in center, beyond Lyell Forli Canon.

The Indian tradition of Yosemite is too much attenuated by the years,
and adulterated by the fancies of white writers, to permit the acceptance of

many so-called Indian leg-
ends of present-day publica-
tion. But even these ascribe
to the aborigines here no
such veneration for the great
peaks, the wonderful cata-
racts, and other superlative
forms of nature as among
primitive men elsewhere
clothed them with power
over human lives, or
amounted to worship. Nor
does it appear that their
speculation undertook seri-
ously to explain these phe-
nomena by a mythology such
even as grew up in the
Northwest, where the leg-
ends of the "Bridge of the

\\ hite Firs (Ahles concolor), on the EjikIc Peali Trail. r^r»r1c" nr\A tht^ "Ra<-fl«i rtf

This tree, so named hefiiiiNe of its liKht Rray bark, vjOQS anO tnC Ijaitie Ol

Is common tlirouKbont tiie Park at 5,000 to 7.000 ^J^g Winds" On the Colum-
feet, Kivine place to the Red Fir, which abounds at i t-» f-

altitudes up to 0,000 feet. bia Rivcr, the Pugct Sound



tolk-tale of the "Miser of Tak-
homa," and the like show the
Indian's restless mind allying
Nature with his daily life, and
seeking curiously to unravel her
problems. For the Yosemite
Indian, the unknown darkness
held only ghosts and witches.
His mountains gave him no
vision. Yet they supplied him
with a place to live in comfort
and aboriginal luxury. They
provided him with acorns, nuts,
game and other food. They en-
abled him to hide in pathless
caiions, where pursuit was im-
possible, and from the walls of
which he might roll down rocks
upon any who should attempt to
penetrate his mountain fastness.
It is not surprising, there-,
fore, that our first native tradi-
tion of the Yosemite represents
the Red Man as telling white
trespassers that Tutockahnulah
would surely punish their intrusion into his Ahwahnee. The white tide
was rolling steadily across the plains to the Pacific. A wave had swept
up the coast from Mexico; all lowland California was inundated. The
mountain Indians had no wish to be "civilized" as their valley cousins had
been. Hence even as
early as 1833, long
before the discovery
of gold and the rush
of miners to the foot-
hills, Captain Joseph
Walker, the first
white man to lay
eyes upon the Yo-
semite country, was
carefully warned by
his Indian guides

r 1 C'ros.sIii>j Gold Ciinou ^loadow.s, oii <rail between Conness Creek

away from tne great s,,„i virelnla < ariou. TIiIs i» a typleal tilled glaeiai lake.

ValleVS 3nd m'ldf to There are liiindred.s of Niieli broad, Nliiuiiijur iiftlaud iiieadowN

•' '. ill tlie I'ark. e:ieli :i itark in itNelf, carpeted with the lineMt

keep his course on t^mss and brllliant with aliiiue flowers.

Sugar Pine (Pinus lauibertlana), loaded witli cones.
This tree, king; of all the pines, is noted for its
tine cones, twelve to t^venty inches long:.

Q h



01 P


< n


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the divide between the Merced and Tuolumne.
And when the gold-hunters came, a notable fig-
ure, if California furnished any notables to the
roll of Indian history, arose on behalf of his
diminished tribe to dispute their advance into
the beloved canon. Tenaya, the Yosemite chief,
is the most memorable and picturesque native
leader in the annals of the state.

The actual discovery of this Indian strong-
hold is a matter of some debate. Whether it was
Walker, in '33, or Savage's frontier militia of
'51, that first looked down into the vast Yosemite
gorge may never be established. Each expedi-
tion, however, is part of our story.

History has done scant justice to Joseph
Reddeford Walker. He belonged to that small
group of intrepid frontiersmen who did much but
wrote little, and whose achievements have been
ignored through their own neglect of fame and
the claims of more ambitious rivals. Walker's
failure to publish his discoveries, and the fact that
he served under a jealous commander, who was ,
even capable of claiming them for his own, have
combined to obscure his work. That he led a
party of Bonneville's men in the first exploration
^^'estward from "the Great Salt Lake;" that he Yosemite sqnavr, with Papoose
disproved the then accepted belief that that lake ""' "*'

drained into the Pacific; that he established the existence, extent and
character of the Great Basin; that he charted its rivers and lakes ending as

they begin in the desert; that he discovered
and was the first to cross the Sierra Nevada
Range, entering Alta California through the
Mono Pass and leaving it the next year, 1834,
by the route since known as Walker's Pass; —
here, surely, was a real "pathfinder," worth a
clear and permanent page in Western history!
Walker concerns us, not only because he
was the first white visitor to the Yosemite
region, but especially because the claim is now
made by his family and others that he "dis-
covered and camped in Yosemite Valley."
The evidence available hardly seems to sus-
I. . , .n , , .^^^^ tain this claim in full.

Poleiiionlum (P. exiiiiiuiii ), at 12,04)0

ft., near Parker Pass. This On thc StOnC OVer Walkcr's graVC in Al-

(iarlng; blue perennial tteeks tlie t i. r^ ^ ^Tvr^' /^i-.i*

iiieitest slopes. hamora Cemetery, at Martmez, Cal., is this




line, said to have been placed there on authority of Captain Walker him-
self: "Camped at Yosemite, November 13, 1833;" and Munro-Fraser's
''History of Contra-Costa County," published in 1882, six years after

Walker's death, con-
tains a sketch of the
explorer, quoting his
nephew, with whom
he spent his last
years, and saying:
"His were the first
white man's eyes that
ever looked upon
the Yosemite, which

Above. Mouo Pass ( el.
10,509 ft.), looking west,
>vith Mnniinoth Moun-
tain and Kiina Crest on
left. Below, Bloody
Canon and Walker I^ake,
with Williams Butte and
Mono Lake beyon*!.

he then discovered, al-
though the honor has
been accorded to some
other person at a
period twenty years
later." Thus it is

seen that the present claim goes somewhat beyond the testimony of Walker
and his nephew. We may accept "Camped at Yosemite," but are we war-
ranted in assuming that "at" means "in"?

On the contrary, Dr. L. H. Bunnell, who was of the Savage party

visiting the valley in
1 8 5 I , and who named
it "Yosemite," says in
his well-known book,
"Discovery of the
Yosemite" (4th ed.,
PP- 38> 39) :

I cheerfully concede
the fact * * * that "his
were the first white man's
copvHiGHT, J. T. BovsEN eycs that ever lool\;ed up-
Happy Hours! Deer are a familiar siKlit everywhere in the np- *-*'^ '-'■'® YOSenilte above
lund forests and meadows of the Park. the valley, and in that




fillincr a glacial cirque iu lilooily Cafiou,
belo^v Mono Pass.

sense he was certainly
the original white dis-

The topography of
the country over which
the Mono trail ran, and
which was followed by
Capt. Walker, did not
admit of his seeing the
valley proper. The de-
pression indicating the
valley, and its magnifi-
cent surroundings, could
alone have been dis-
covered, and in Capt.
Walker's conversations
with me at various
times he was manly
enough to say so. Up-
on one occasion I told
Capt. Walker that Ten-
ie-ya had said that "a
small party of white
men once crossed the
mountains on the north
side, but were so guid-
ed as not to see the valley proper." With a smile the captain said: "That was my
party, but I was not deceived, for the lay of the land showed there was a valley below;
but we had become nearly barefooted, our animals poor, and ourselves on the verge of
starvation, so we followed down the ridge to Bull Creek, where, killing a deer, we
went into camp."

Again, on p. 78, Dr. Bunnell says Walker told him that "his Ute and
Mono guides gave such a dismal account of the caiions of both rivers that
he kept his course near to the divide," — that is, between the Tuolumne
and the Merced. With no other chronicle of this first expedition, Bunnell's
quotations from Walker and the Yosemite chief enable us to see the weary

explorers struggling up the
steep defile of Bloody Canon
from the volcanic Mono
plain, descending the long
western slope, half starved,
and floundering through the
untracked snow of Novem-
ber on the divide, to reach
at last the sunshine and com-
fort of the pro\-incial capi-
tal, Monterey. Probably
Walker's route was much
the same as that of the later
Tioga Road. The Indians
had kept the secret of their
warm Yosemite home.

Mt. Hofl'nian, from Sn<>\v Flat, on tlie Tioga Koail. Tlil.s Wp muSt roncllldp T

mass of granite ramparts Is the crest of tlie diviile < • , . ■. i,'

between Yosemite Valley and the Tuolumne. think, that \^hlle WalkcT



E^nstern End of Yoseiiiite Valley, seen from Yosemite Falls Trail, near foot of the llpper
Fall. Beginning T»ith Glacier Point on the right, the sky-line sho«» successively >It.
SStsirr King, the Mt, Clark grouit. Half Dome, and North Dome.

first traversed the Yosemite uplands, and was, In that sense, as Bunnell
admits, "the original white discoverer," the honor of first visiting the tioor

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Online LibraryJohn Harvey WilliamsYosemite and its High Sierra → online text (page 2 of 7)