John Harvey Williams.

Yosemite and its High Sierra online

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make the mountain districts of the
state better known and more widely
enjoyed should have the support of
many thousands of Californians,
expressed by the payment of its
modest membership fee. We com-
plain that the East goes to Europe
to see mountains. This will be true
until we make our mountains as
accessible as are the Alps, and as

well known. The Sierra Club is V Typical Claclal cirque on Kuna crest, such

a horse-shoe-shaped head-basin Is due by
hard at work on that task. each glacler, using the bergschrund as a tool.

Upper Hetfli Hetcliy, viewed from Ranoherla Trail on north side of Le Conte Point.
Xortli Dome is seen on tlie right, Kolana Roelv in center, and Smith Peak on the left>
4,:!00 feet above the floor of tlie Valley.



I see an eagle sweep
Athwart the blue; a gleaming river bind
In gorgeous braid the valley's golden gown;
A cataract plunge o'er its distant steep,
And flutter like a ribbon in the wind.

— Herbert Bashford.

THE Sierra Club discovered the Fountain of Youth, which men have
sought for centuries; and having taken possession of it, now plans
to guard the treasure well, sharing it, however, with all who may
come to drink its sparkling waters and breathe its mountain air. In the
homelier language of to-day, this coveted fountain is the "Soda Springs."
It is on the north rim of Tuolumne Meadows, a dozen miles by Tioga road
from Tenaya Lake, and
twice as far from Yosemite

No finer spot could be
found for a mountaineers'
rendezvous in the High
Sierra. The great valley
known as Tuolumne Mead-
ows — a filled-up lake basin
at the junction of the Dana
and Lyell Forks of the Tuol-
umne River — is about ten

miles long and two in width. Coaatlng; on the Pollshed Granite, at the Waterwheels.



Lover Eud of Tuolumne Meadows, with Cathedral Peak on the sky-line. The Tioga Road
skirts tlie soutli side of the Valley, wliicli is also reached by many trails, making it
the most accessible point in the northeastern part of the Park, while the important
mountains surrounding it make it a favorite starting point for exploration. In the cen-
ter of this picture is seen the Soda Springs tract of the Sierra Club, 160 acres, includ-
ing the Springs themselves, at the edge of the wooded moraine north of the river hend.
The Club tvill erect a lodge here. This vie\>' is from the summit of Lambert Dome.

On all its sides, the highest mountains of the central Sierra stand guard.

Conness, Dana, Mammoth and

Catliedral Creek Falls, the fine cas-
cade l>y wliicli Cathedral Creek
drops into Tuolumne Cafion.

Lyell peaks are upon the north and east.
The unique Cathedral Range overlooks it
immediately on the south. Lambert Dome
rises from its floor, and, still more beautiful,
Fairview Dome towers over its lower end,
where the river, leaving its quiet meadow
reaches, plunges down the vast Tuolumne
cafion on its boisterous way to Hetch Hetchy.
Upon this capital site, the club has
bought the old Lambert, or Lembert, home-
stead, a quarter-section in the heart of the
Meadows, which was preempted by John
Baptist Lembert, a stockman, in 1885, be-
fore the creation of the National Park. The
tract embraces several fine mineral springs,
and with one exception is the only private
holding in the eastern section of the Park.
The land is part meadow and part hillside
facing the mountains on the south. Its cen-
tral location, with the Tioga road running
south and east, and trails radiating to all
parts of the Tuolumne watershed, makes it



the natural starting point, either for W^

mountain climbing, or for explora- i"

tion of Tuolumne Cafion and the

alluring region north of it. From it

one goes with equal directness across

the passes to Mono Lake or west to

Hetch Hetchy.

Three or four times, at inter-
vals of three years, the club has

made Tuolumne Meadows a base

for its summer explorations; and

now, on the one hundred and sixty

acres which good fortune has en-
abled it to acquire, it proposes

during the coming summer to erect

a lodge and establish a camp, thus

making Soda Springs its permanent

Tuolumne headquarters. Here will

be provided simple entertainment,

not only for members of the Sierra

Club, but also for those of similar

associations who may visit the

Meadows, and for such others as

there may be room to accommodate.

It will be named "Parsons Memorial Lodge," in honor of the late Edward T.

Parsons, long a director of the club, and one of its most active mountaineers.

Arrangement for accommodations should be made at LeConte Lodge in

Yosemite. As the Panama-Pacific Exposition will doubtless bring a host of

mountaineers to California, the new camp on the Tuolumne should aid

many In exploring the Park.

It is a day's good walk from Soda Springs to the summit of Mt. Dana

and back. The Tioga road and Dana Fork are followed to the foot of

the mountain, whence the trail climbs
the pass between Dana and Gibbs.
The ascent from the saddle is short
and easy. The summit of Dana com-
mands a view of more snow-peaks,
probably, than one can see with so
little labor anywhere else on the con-
tinent, while a mile down on the east
side lie Mono Lake, rimmed with fine
mountains, and, south of it, a gray
and grim line of volcanic peaks.

From the Dana-Gibbs saddle one
spermophiios a. c u-s. Creek. ^^Y I'^st July,— thc Only stormy day

Glen Auliii Jiud AVilrtcat Point, near the up-
per end of Tuolumne Grand Canon.

Tuolumne Falls, at tlie Ht-ail of the <iran(l Cafion of the Tuoluiiuie: — «rst ami most im-
portant of the oascartes by wiiU-h this nobly turbulent river, dropping 5,000 feet In
twenty-live miles, oonies to the ijuiet waters and lovely wild gJir'lens of Hetch Hetchy.

Grand Ciiiion of the Tiioliinine, Neen from Mm north ^viill, looking ncroNS to the deeply
eroded side of Falls Rldgre. This vast cuttinK by eriaclor and Mtreiim extends from Tuol-
nmne Meadows to Hetch Uetcliy, t>venty-flve miles In length and from 3,000 feet to a
mile In depth.



Largest of the "AVaterwlieels," Tuolumne Caiion.

of the Sierra Club outing, — I beheld a scene that can never be forgotten.
In Tuolumne Meadows, westward, it was raining lightly; but below us, on
the east, a wild thunder-storm swept the Mono Lake basin with lightning and
rain. All the great amphitheater seemed filled with the black, solid mass of

the tempest; but as flash upon flash pierced the
darkness, we saw, vivid as day, the breakers beat-
ing the shore of the lake, and the trees upon the
islands that dot its breast. While this storm
blackened the Mono basin at our feet, beyond,
stretching far into Nevada, range after range rolled
away, waves of a sea of mountains, flashing in the
same sunshine that bathed our lofty outlook.

Other peaks are reached from the Tuolumne
base with almost equal ease. The trail to Mt. Lyell
and its neighbors follows up Lyell Fork, and un-
folds a succession of splendid mountain pictures. In
other directions, trails lead north to Conness Moun-
tain, remarkable for the sheer walls of great glacial
head-basins, and to beautiful Matterhorn Canon
and the Benson Pass country. Those who like still
harder climbing may go with the Tuolumne down
the whole length of its rough canon to Hetch
Hetchy. The Sierra Club parties commonly divide,
^f::'kTu:r::f:L:VZ as did that of last summer, part taking the trails

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across the uplands, the rest choosing the pathless river gorge. The former
route offers the inspiration of wide views from the heights; the latter, the
zest of a long scramble across huge boulders and polished benches, around
frequent cascades, and over the walls of such impassable box-caiions as
Muir Gorge. The canon of the Tuolumne is one of the deepest and wildest

glacier-troughs in the world.
^itgT'^a^ffm'''^' ^ Its walls rise to heights of a

mile abox^e the mad river,
with constantly changing in-
terest in their sculpture.

The falls of the Tuol-
umne are nowhere compara-

Benson I^ake, one of the most pie-
tiire.sqiie of tlie Park's alpine
lakes. The inlet is seen above;
the outlet belo^v.

ble in altitude with Vernal or
Nevada Falls, but they have
the fascination of infinite va-
riety and the Impressive power of repetition, while their setting, at the bot-
tom of this truly grand caiion, Is far more stupendous and wonderful than
that of the great Merced cataracts. For twenty-five miles of cascades,
rapids, sheer falls of considerable drop, and delightful glacial tarns, the
wild river plunges down a path so narrow and difficult that to follow it
two or three miles is sometimes a day's work for a party of experienced
climbers. Even these climb over and around Muir Gorge, rather than risk
their lives In Its deep flume.

Camping at Conness Creek basin, below the splendid Tuolumne Falls,

and at the foot of the noble White
Cascade, most of the Sierra Club
party in July went down the caiion
as far as the Waterwheel Falls.
These surprising water forms are
found where the turbulent river,
shooting down smooth Inclines at
furious speed, drops into spoon-
:' shaped depressions caused by the

L " erosion of soft rock. The water is

hurled aloft, twenty to forty feet at

Cookstoves on the march. Part of the Sierra Hlffprpnf- cf i fTPC nf thp cfrpcim nnA

ciub'a commissary in motion. uinerent stagcs oi tHc Stream, anQ





the backward action of the spray gives a good imitation of a wheel revolv-
ing with great velocity.

Returning to Conness Creek, we took the high trail up the fine Cold
Creek Meadows, and across Virginia Canon, thence climbing an unnamed
pass to reach Miller Lake, and late in the day descended through a note-
worthy forest of mountain hem-
locks to our night's camp in Mat-
terhorn Canon. Matterhorn
Peak and the caiion are worth
seeing, but the next day, after we
had climbed the long trough of

Wilson Creek to Benson Pass, |M^^^'^ l^^tt^^^^^^^^^^^^^^tt
and then ascended the hills 3I^^^1^^^^^B9H^P^IH^BP

looking the pass at an elevation

tlie Heart of the Tuolumne Grand
Canon. The louver vie^v sho'«vs the
entrance to Muir Gorge.

of about 10,500 feet, a wonder-
ful array of mountains, canons,
valleys and lakes swept majestic-
ally from Conness on the east
around the circle to Rancheria
Mountain and the blue deeps of
Tuolumne Cafion in the southwest. Everywhere the vast amphitheater told
of its ancient inhabitants, the glaciers, now long vanished, but proclaimed
in the clean-cut cirques, deep-set glacial lakes, and silvery waterfalls drop-
ping from hanging valleys high on distant cafion rims.

Descending from Benson Pass, the trail wound round Volunteer Peak,
past Smedberg Lake, and in the sunny afternoon brought us to camp on


Mulr Gorge. View from Its lower end, lookiiiK up the Tuoliiniiie. Half a mUe above tlil«
point tlie river contracts into a race-like stream, lieninied in l>y the precipitous walls
of a box cafflou. impassable save at lowest water. Only a few daring climbers have
ever made the trip.



Rodgers Lake, the queen of all
the lakes, on the north side of
the Park. Leaving this camp
the next morning, abandoning
the delightful lake shore was
a hard parting. But the day
brought new wonders in the
great views it gave us of Tuol-
umne Caiion, as the trail skirted
its north wall. Camp at night
at Pleasant Valley in Piute
Cafion was followed by the long
ascent of Rancheria Mountain,
the next day, through forests of
red fir {Abies magnifica) that
were a joy to see. These stately
trees justify Chase's enthusiasm :
"If I were called upon to choose
the one among the conifers that
I would live and die by, I should
choose the red silver fir, with no
fear of ever wearying of its
sublime companionship."

Reaching camp on Ranch-
eria early in the afternoon, we
had more glimpses down into
the Tuolumne abyss, and still
more the following morning, when the trail led us westward to Rancheria
Creek. The descent into its cation brought us to its charming falls, and finally
to the Mecca of our pilgrimage, lovely, famous, fought-over Hetch Hetchy,
This book is not a brief for or against the San Francisco power and
water dam. Enough has already been said on both sides of that controversy
that were better left unsaid; and although I have been heartily with those who
opposed the commercializ-
ing of any of our too few
national parks; who deemed
Hetch Hetchy, properly
drained and made access-
ible, infinitely more valu-
able, even to California, as
a park than it can ever be as
a reservoir for water that is
obtainable elsewhere; and
who saw behind the call for

• At- 1 Weighing the Oiinnnge. This ceremony precedes each

increasea water supply a day's march on a sierra Club outing.

Little Hetch Hetchy, a mile above the main Val
ley; Kolana Rock In the distance.



vast municipal power project, and
questioned the propriety of Con-
gress endowing such an undertaking
with public property worth many
millions; nevertheless I recognize
that many conservative and disinter-
ested Californians, both in and out
of San Francisco, hold the opposite
view, believing that the conversion is
necessary, and that it need not close
the Tuolumne watershed, or preclude
the establishment of sanitary camps
and hotels for visitors who may wish
to explore the Tuolumne highlands.
The issue has been fought in good
faith, and to a finish. Congress has
acted sincerely in the belief that the
necessities of this case transcend the
danger of a possibly troublesome
precedent. Its action, unless re-
pealed, settles the question so far as
the country at large is concerned ; the
matter now rests with the courts and
people of California. I have room
only to point out the fact that those
who would know Hetch Hetchy must
see it before it ceases to be the unique

and glorious vale it is to-day. The Yosemite Park contains many lakes as

fine as this will be ; it has only one Hetch Hetchy.

If there were no Yosemite, Hetch Hetchy would doubtless be the

most celebrated valley in America. But it is misleading, though easy, to

describe it as merely a minor edition of the more magnificent caiion. The

resemblances, of course, are

startling. Sheer gray walls

of granite, marked with

"royal arches," crowned

with domes, and hung with

splendid waterfalls, rim a

similar level valley floor.

This records the filling of an

ancient glacial lake, which

is still more plainly recalled

in the rock sill at its lower

end. Here the Tuolumne, ij„„„,„,^ ^ake m Eleanor Cafio„. at the foot of the
after flowing lazily for overhnnRins, rotk shown ou page 134.

Sunrise in Hetcli Hetchy.

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'*Tbe "Fn-lma," a aplendld doable tree !■ the Tuolumne Grove.

In Mariposa Grove.

Thy giant brood, . . .

Children of elder time, in whose devotion
The chainless winds still come and ever came
To hear an old and solemn harmony.

— Shelley.



three miles amidst mead-
ows and forests, is cut-
ting a narrow box caiion,
too shallow as yet to
save the valley from an-
nual inundation by
spring floods. Freed
thus from unwonted re-
straint, the impatient
stream resumes its role
as a caiion torrent, and
bounds wildly away to
join the San Joaquin.
But Hetch Hetchy
has a character and at-
mosphere all its own. It
lies five hundred feet
lower than Yosemite; it
is only half as long and
wide, with walls two-
thirds as high. The
smaller cafion is warmer, sunnier, more gracious. Its beauty is less appalling,
but so much more intimate and lovable that save for the formal resemblance

Falls, iu Rancberia Creek, Hetch Hetchy,

I,ake Eleanor, five iiiileN northwest <»t' Hetch Hetchy. This beautiful niountaln-walled
lake, enlarged by a daiu at Its outlet, will form part of the Sau Francisco %vater Hysteiu.

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Velloiv PlneN (PinuM pouderoisa).

and contiguity of the two valleys, a reader
of mountain character would hardly compare
the gentler graces of H.etch Hetchy with the
stupendous grandeurs of Yosemite.

The walls of Hetch Hetchy, imposing
in their height and sculptured forms, will
make a very splendid frame for the restored
lake. Its two great waterfalls, with the cas-
cades in the
branch caiions of
Rancheria and
Till-Till Creeks,
so far as not
buried by the
rising waters,
will always
be among the
most beautiful
in the Park. But
its valley floor,
with all the
splendor of
mountain flowers
and stately for-
ests, will be over-
whelmed. No
lake can ever
compare with
such a valley, or
make up the loss
of such groves
of pines and
oaks. Black oaks
dominate this
valley floor, just
as the yellow
pines are su-
preme on the floor of Yosemite. Taller than
the live oaks, with vast crowns of bright
deciduous foliage, they form here the noblest
oak groves I have ever seen ; and I advise my
readers who love beautiful trees to see these
great oaks, and walk among them, and bathe
in the cool Tuolumne beneath their spread-
ing shade, before It Is too late.

Overhanging Rock at Bleanor
Canon, This little known
cliff rises two thousand feet
or more above one of the
most beautiful lakes In the
National Park.

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( onleiiiitoiitr.v of Aoali. 1 lie l:»iii«)u.>, "(jrlaizly Glaut," palriuroli »>1 tlie Mariposa Grove,
hUM ivatclied the career of man upon the earth for at leawt forty eenturies. It is one
of a few very ancient trees found in the several groves, and believed to be survivors
of a former Keneratlon of Sequoias. — doubtless the oldest of all living things. This
venerable Big Tree is thirty feet in diameter; its largest limb is six feet thlclc Its
height, 204 feet, however, is less than that of many younger trees, the storms having
destroyed much of Its crown. It shows few signs of senility, and may live many cen-
turies more.

Cavalrymen at the Cabin in ^lariposa Grove. For many years tlie Xutioual I'arii lias
been policed by a detail of United State^4 cavalry, an<l Its Superintendent has been an
Army officer. This system, bo-wever, has been changed by the present Federal admin-
Ititratlon to one of civilian supervision.



In terraced emerald they stand
Against the sky,
Each elder tree a king
Whose fame the wordless billows magnify.

— George Sterling : ''An Altar of the West."

THE crowning glory of the Yosemite country is its forests. Of these
the three groves of Big Trees {Sequoia gigantea) , especially the great
Mariposa Grove, reached by way of Wawona, represent the climax
of plant life. To leave the Park without seeing them is unthinkable.

The Yosemite forests begin with the magnificent yellow pines and
incense cedars {Lib-
ocedriis deciirrens) ,
as well as black an J
maul oaks, which do
so much to soften
and adorn the deep,
wide valleys on the
Merced and Tuol-
umne. Whether we
look down on these
notable forests from
the valley walls, or

11 " .L L • -^ Fish Story from Laurel Lake. One day's can-li of a parly

walk among their of sportsmen.



fine trees, we quickly recognize that, unparalleled as is their setting, they
are worthy of it.

Quitting the valleys for the uplands, we soon find the yellow pine
yielding in number to the great sugar pine of California and southern Ore-
gon. On the plateaus above, first place is taken by w^hite fir {Abies con-
color), and held up to about 7,500 feet, where the still more imposing red
fir {Abies magnifica) supplants it. Each of these typical Sierran trees
forms large and delightful forests in many parts of the Park. Along with

\Vsi>vona Uleado^vs and the South Meroeil Valley, seen from \VaT»-ona Point, near the

Mariposa Grove.

red fir, Jeffrey and mountain pines are found, to the nine thousand foot
level and beyond, where the graceful mountain hemlocks dwell, and the
tamarack or lodgepole pine {Piniis contort a murrayana) takes up its task
of covering the thinnest soils with gaunt forests that seem to belong to the
stern, new landscapes. On the highest ridges, outposts of stunted white-
bark pine {Pintis albicaulis) march with the hardiest alpine flowers to the
very snow-line. But it is the Sequoia which, in interest and importance, rises
immeasurably above the Park's other forest wealth, peerless among all
growing creatures of the soil in age and size, and equally preeminent in
beauty and distinction.



Would you know what the famous
Big Tree really is, how it outlives all
its forest comrades, enduring by the
pluck that meets calamity with a laugh ?
A volume of botanical data would tell
less of its habits, its virility, than one
may learn by seeing a single example of
Sequoia well-doing. Let us visit the
little Tuolumne Grove, on the west
boundary of the Park. This contains
only thirty trees, among them some of
colossal size and perfect proportion.
But we have come to see a burnt and
shattered stump that sets forth the vir-
tues of its clan more bravely than any
of its comelier
peers. It is the
so-called "King
of the Forest."
Among my
boyhood friends
was a worthy but
broken old man.
In earlier years
he had served
his community
well. Then mis-
fortune and ill
health dealt him
a cruel slap, and
his kindly heart
took on a veneer
of eccentricity.
He became a vil-
lage "character."
His neighbors,
loving him but
knowing the
twist, put him
gently by as a
negligible "back
number." But
when a test came

Red Fir (Abie.s inngnlf- that tried the
lea), on Rnnelieria 1 r

Mountain. SOUl 01 OUr tOWn,

AInI>:iin:i," in the 3InripONn (.roxo. ItM
tji»i«'al <ioiiie-Mliape<I ero^vii iu<lii-:iteH
tliiit it lins been exceptional in tliUN
far eitcnping damage by storm.



It was "Old Ben," the super-
annuate, whose fiber and
courage saved the day.

The forest life, too, has
its crises; It provides tests
of the hardest. And as
human wrecks often regain
their footing and make
good, so a tree that by all
signs is down and out, like
an obsolete and seedy poli-
tician, or king discrowned,
— may not it "come back"?
Originally our tatter-
demalion "King of the For-
est" was one of the noblest
Big Trees. It had a circum-
ference of nearly a hundred
feet. Its height was doubt-
less three hundred. Its
crown was worthy of a
monarch of giants. Around
It the tides of ordinary tree
life rose and fell. Pines and
firs, the sturdy commoners
of the forest, spanning out their little generation of three or four centuries,
came and went. But His Sequoia Majesty ruled on. For
two thousand years, or even three, it was the pride of
its stately grove.

Then came disaster that would have wiped out any
other tree. Fire destroyed one side of It, and ate away
Its heart. Of the huge bole there remained hardly a half
cylinder of sound wood and thick cinnamon-colored bark.
The crown fell, but this charred fragment stood, ninety
feet of hollowed stalk, still flaunting two or three scorched
and ragged little limbs. It seemed merely a lopsided and
ludicrous monument to departed grandeur. Surely even
a forest king, in such plight, might yield without dis-
honor, and returning to the soil await reincarnation In

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Online LibraryJohn Harvey WilliamsYosemite and its High Sierra → online text (page 6 of 7)